Sports Picks For Sale - Matt Fargo

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 27-8 Run - 19-6 Football Run
  • NFL 10-2 L12 and 19-7 YTD
  • +$11,020 CFB Last 2 Years

Biography

Matt Fargo is one of the most respected and consistent handicappers since 2000, and his thorough analysis has earned him a devoted following.

Active since:  2000

Location:  Fairport, NY

Matt broke into the professional handicapping scene back in 2000 but he was far from raw as sports betting had been in his life for many years prior.  He made a name for himself with numerous top five finishes at a prominent independent national sports monitor in his first three years, and winning handicapping titles has been a mainstay with Matt ever since.  Consider 2018.  In that year, Matt finished #3 in All Sports combined at Sports Watch Monitor!  And Matt ranked among the Top 3 in the NHL in two of the last three hockey seasons.  Consistent winning is the name of the game and that is what Matt provides.  He has become one of the most recognized and respected handicappers around and that is by no accident.  His top notch analysis backs up every play so he doesn't just give you winners, he tells you exactly why.

While specific systems are not used on a daily basis, Matt is considered a situational handicapper above anything else.  Analyzing each and every game, no matter how big or how small the card may be, is essential to be able to pull out the best situational plays.  He is a contrarian at heart which is one of the best ways to beat the books on a steady basis.

Some handicapping highlights (documented at Sports Watch Monitor):

#1 2015-16 NFL Regular Season

#1 2015-16 CFB Regular Season

#3 2015-16 CFB Bowl Season

#1 2015-16 NBA Regular Season

#1 2015-16 CBB Regular Season

#3 2015-16 CBB Postseason

#8 2015-16 NBA Postseason

#5 2016-17 CFB Bowl Season

#3 2017 CFL Regular Season

#3 2017-18 NFL Postseason

#3 2017-18 CFB Regular Season

#9 2017-18 NBA Postseason

#9 2017-18 CBB Regular Season

#1 2018 CFL Regular Season

#5 2018-19 NFL Postseason

#5 2018-19 NCAAB Postseason

#3 2018 MLB Regular Season

#2 2017-18 NHL Regular Season

#3 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

#2 2019 CFL Regular Season

Rating Scale

A play’s rating will be displayed in each title and ranges anywhere from 7* to 10* for Premium Plays, and 1* for Free Plays.  10* status is considered your top bet amount. 9* are 90% of your top bet and so on.

Enforcer — this is the “Signature Play” for Matt.  It is always backed with a 10* Rating and is typically one of his strongest plays of the day.

Supreme Annihilator — this is typically a favorite (or pick ‘em) which Matt feels has the opportunity to destroy the line.

Ultimate Underdog — this is an underdog which is being faded for the wrong reasons and usually has a chance to win a game outright.

Star Attraction — this is a game on national television to provide a great watch-and-win opportunity.

Quote:  "This is not an easy business and anyone who tells you different clearly does not put in the time or hard work that I do.  In order to be successful, it takes patience, dedication and an overall willingness to be the best.  We all go through good and bad runs but it is consistency that counts when it comes to handicapping."

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NCAAF - Sat, Oct 08 at 12:00 PM

Free Play For Saturday

Tennessee vs LSU

Lsu +3 (-110) (Caesars)

This is a play on the LSU TIGERS for our Free Play For Saturday. We are going against the big public darling here as Tennessee has collected 73 percent of the early tickets and plain and simple is overvalued here. One major set of power rankings has Tennessee ranked No. 14 with LSU sitting a spot...

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NCAAF - Point Spread - Sat, Oct 08

Fargo's Big Ten Conference Game of the Year

It has been a SWEET run in football as Matt is a POWERFUL 18-6 over his last 24 plays including a 9-4 CFB run and ove...

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NCAAF - Point Spread - Fri, Oct 07

Fargo's CFB Friday Night Lights Winner 17-11

Over the last three plus weeks in College Football, Matt has put together a big profit as he is 17-11 over his last 2...

$30

MLB - Moneyline - Fri, Oct 07

Fargo's MLB Friday Sweet Spot (26-8 Run)

Fargo is riding a TERRIFIC 26-8 Run in his last 34 plays in All Sports and after a Wednesday Win in MLB, he is lookin...

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NCAAF - Point Spread - Sat, Oct 08

Fargo's CFB Saturday Supreme Annihilator 9-4

Matt is riding a 9-4 CFB run and over the last three plus weeks, he has won 61% of his plays and has brought home +$1...

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NCAAF - Point Spread - Sat, Oct 08

Fargo's CFB Saturday Enforcer (SWEET 9-4 Run)

Over the last three plus weeks in CFB, Matt has put together a big profit as he is 17-11 over his last 28 plays inclu...

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NCAAF - n/a - Sat, Oct 08

Fargo's CFB Saturday Underdog Three Pack 9-4

18-6 Football Run! CFB is on a SOLID 9-4 run and Fargo and his clients have brought home +$11,020 in profits the last...

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NFL - Point Spread - Sun, Oct 09

Fargo's AFC North Game of the Month 10-2 Run

After opening Week 6 with a Colts Win, Matt is on a POTENT 10-2 NFL run and is off to a 19-7 NFL start YTD! Last year...

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NFL - Point Spread - Sun, Oct 09

Fargo's NFL Sunday Supreme Annihilator (10-2)

Matt is on a 10-2 Run and is off to a 19-7 NFL start to the season after a Thursday Colts Win! Last season, he went 5...

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NFL - Point Spread - Sun, Oct 09

Fargo's NFL Sunday Enforcer (10-2 NFL Run)

Week 6 opened with a Colts Win to extend the 10-2 run NFL run and Matt is 19-7 in the NFL YTD! Last season, Fargo wen...

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NFL - Point Spread - Sun, Oct 09

Fargo's NFL Sunday Ultimate Underdog 10-2 Run

Matt is on a 10-2 NFL run after the Colts Win Thursday and is 19-7 in the NFL YTD and has profited long term for a le...

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NFL - Point Spread - Sun, Oct 09

Fargo's NFL Sunday Star Attraction (10-2 Run)

After a Colts Win Thursday, Matt is on a 10-2 NFL run and he is 19-7 in the NFL YTD and has profited long term for a ...

$30

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 3 (Part 2)

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action. Vanderbilt 38, Northern Illinois 28Northern Illinois took control of this game early but the loss of starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi in the second quarter was too much to overcome down the stretch. Vanderbilt took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead and eventually stretched that to 14-7 but the Huskies scored twice in the final five minutes of the second quarter and then opened the second half with a 75-yard drive in three plays to take a two-touchdown lead. Vanderbilt scored the final 24 points as the defense forced three punts, had two fourth down stops and an interception over the final six Huskies possessions. The Commodores outgained Northern Illinois 428-354 on 10 more plays. Alabama 63, UL-Monroe 7Alabama dominated in all three areas as it scored on offense, defense and special teams for its first three touchdowns and jumped out to a 28-0 lead after the first quarter. The Tide scored three non-offensive touchdowns as it ran an interception back 25 yards for a touchdown, blocked a punt for a scoop and score and returned a punt 68 yards for another touchdown. The offense did stall after its opening touchdown as they were forced to punt, turned it over on downs and threw an interception in three of the next four possessions. Still, Alabama outgained UL-Monroe 509-169 despite having the ball for over 12 minutes less as the defense allowed only 11 first downs and forced 12 punts. Kansas 48, Houston 30Kansas pulled off another road upset as it was able to come from behind yet again. The Jayhawks spotted Houston a 14-0 lead as the Cougars forced Kansas to punt in its first two possessions and turned both of those into touchdown drives but then the Jayhawks offense took over. They scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions, with the lone exception being a drive ended only by halftime, and carried a 28-14 lead into the break. The Cougars cut it to within seven points but Kansas pulled away with another pair of touchdowns. Houston actually outgained Kansas but was hurt by 10 penalties for 73 yards while its two turnovers turned into 14 points for the Jayhawks, two drives totaling 31 yards. Washington St. 38, Colorado St. 7The Cougars started fast as they scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to take a 28-0 lead into halftime. Washington St. cooled off the jets in the second half on offense as it had a field goal, two punts, a turnover on downs and an interception in its first five drives of the second half before scoring a late touchdown. The defense was the real story as Colorado St. could muster nothing early in the game as in their first nine possessions, they had no drive more than 48 yards as they punted five times, had two turnovers, were stopped on downs and missed a field goal. The Cougars won the yardage battle 442-249 including allowing 37 yards rushing on 31 carries (1.2 ypc) and had seven sacks. Bowling Green 34, Marshall 31There was no letdown for Marshall early as it jumped out to a 14-0 lead after only 2:32 of the game, going 75 yards in four plays in its opening possession, forcing a punt and then going 79 yards in two plays for its second touchdown. Bowling Green punted in its first five possessions, all three and outs, before the offense finally got going as the Thundering Herd scored touchdowns on three straight drives to tie the game at 21-21 and tied it again late in the fourth quarter to send it to overtime. After forcing a field goal, the Falcons scored the winning touchdown two plays later in overtime. Marshall outgained the Falcons 547-377 but it had three turnovers that led to 14 points for Bowling Green. Wake Forest 37, Liberty 36Wake Forest looked as though it would pull away comfortably as it built early leads of 10-0 and 20-5 before Liberty ran off 18 consecutive points to take a 23-20 lead in the third quarter before a wild final 15 minutes. After tying the game with a field goal, Wake Forest regained the lead before Liberty came back to tie three minutes later but the Demon Deacons responded again two minutes later with another touchdown. The Flames got it back with over three minutes left and went 80 yards for a touchdown, elected to go for two points and missed. Liberty outgained the Demon Deacons 437-346 but had four costly turnovers that led to 14 points. Wake Forest rushed for only 21 yards on 26 carries (0.8 ypc). LSU 31, Mississippi St. 16Mississippi St. forced a punt on its first defensive possession and went 87 yards on nine plays to grab a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point. The Tigers could not get nothing going on offense as in the next five possessions, they punted four times and lost a fumble and the Bulldogs were able to extend the lead to 13-0 late in the second quarter. LSU finally put a drive together as it went 75 yards in seven plays in 1:28 to cut the lead to 13-7 at halftime. After trading field goals in the third quarter, LSU scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away, the first one aided by a muffed punt recovered at the nine-yard line. LSU outgained Mississippi St. 420-287 as it held the Bulldogs to 73 yards rushing on 23 carries (3.2 ypc). Tennessee 63, Akron 6It was a small stumble for Tennessee early in the game as it missed a field goal on its first drive but then scored touchdowns on its next six possessions to easily take control of the game. The first five touchdown drives were all 74 yards or more and the offense was forced to punt only twice all game. The Volunteers racked up 676 total yards with the passing game being explosive, going 20-25 with four touchdown passes and a massive 21.9 yards per completion average. The Zips were held to 276 yards of total offense, including just 35 yards rushing on 24 carries (1.5 ypc) and they were held to going just 1-13 on third down. The Volunteers outgained Akron 9.7 to 3.9 in yards per play. Memphis 44, Arkansas St. 32This was a back and forth game throughout the afternoon that the Tigers ultimately survived. Arkansas St. forced a punt on its first defensive possession and went 80 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead but Memphis responded with a 75-yard drive in eight plays to force a tie after the first quarter. Back-to-back touchdowns started the second quarter and the Tigers eventually took a 21-17 lead into halftime. Memphis grabbed an 11-point lead early in the fourth and after the Red Wolves regained the lead, the Tigers took it right back shortly thereafter and then recovered a fumble, setting up its final touchdown. Memphis outgained Arkansas St. 547-370 in total yardage and 7.5 to 5.6 yards per play. NC State 27, Texas Tech 14After a punt to open the game, NC State kicked field goals on its next two possessions and scored its first touchdown of the game two possessions later and on the ensuing kickoff, Texas Tech was driving but the Wolfpack intercepted a pass and returned in 84 yards for a touchdown to take a 20-0 lead. The Red Raiders were able to find the endzone prior to the half but the Wolfpack defense allowed only one touchdown in the second half as well as they forced a punt, a turnover on downs and intercepted two more passes. NC State was outgained 353-270 but Texas Tech was only 3-16 on third and fourth down while four turnovers also did them in. The teams combined for just 165 yards rushing. Charlotte 42, Georgia St. 41After opening the season with three bad losses, Charlotte picked up the surprising road win. Georgia St. went 73 yards in 12 plays to open the game with a touchdown drive but the 49ers responded on the next possession by going 75 yards in nine plays to tie the game and the Panthers took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter after another long drive. Charlotte returned a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown and then put up another offensive touchdown to take it first lead that it would hold until 1:43 left but went 69 yards in 1:16 to score the game winner. Georgia St. won the yardage battle 602-501 but ran 23 more plays and was on the wrong side of the yards per play average at 7.6 to 6.8. Iowa 27, Nevada 0The Iowa offense finally got going but it was far from great against a bad defense as the Hawkeyes managed only 337 yards of total offense on just 5.5 yards per play. After punting on its first two possessions, Iowa was able to score on its next three drives with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal but those touchdown drives were only 40 and 41 yards. The offense did sputter the rest of the way as in their last seven possessions, the Hawkeyes punted five times while scoring only twice. The defense made up for it as they allowed only 151 total yards on 2.4 yards per play including 69 yards rushing on 36 carries (1.9 ypc). Nevada never got closer to the endzone than the Hawkeyes 39-yard line. Maryland 34, SMU 27The Maryland offense came up clutch when it was needed but it was the defense that decided this game. There were five lead changes and three ties and the Terrapins rallied from down one touchdown in the second half to score two fourth quarter touchdowns. In total, Maryland forced two interceptions, one fumble, three turnovers on downs and one missed field goal and those led to 20 of its 34 points. The Mustangs outgained Maryland 520-439 but ran 35 more plays and finished at a 7.2 to 5.4 disadvantage in yards per play. The Terrapins were well balanced on offense but finished 5-13 on third down and a couple miscues hurt two drives yet what really hurt them were 15 penalties for 141 yards. UCF 40, Florida Atlantic 14Florida Atlantic controlled most of the first half as it opened the game with an 87-yard touchdown drive in six plays to strike first and after going into the second quarter down 14-7, the Knights put up a touchdown and a field goal to take a 16-14 lead into the break and the defense would allow nothing else the rest of the game. The offense scored the final 33 points of the game and ended it on the Florida Atlantic five-yard line so there could have been more and over the last eight Owls possessions not counting the end of the half, UCF forced six punts, a turnover and a missed field goal. The Knights outgained Florida Atlantic 653-296 as they ran 33 more plays and had over a 12-minute edge in time of possession. Pittsburgh 34, Western Michigan 13Pittsburgh was able to hold off Western Michigan with a big fourth quarter as the Panthers won with their fourth string quarterback starting under center. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never allowed the Broncos to get within fewer than seven points which they did at the end of the third quarter following a 75-yard, three-play drive to get to within 20-13. The Panthers took the ensuing kickoff and went 74 yards in 12 plays in 7:07 and then tacked on a late score after forcing the Broncos to punt twice in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh outgained Western Michigan 417-180 and allowed just 50 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.7 ypc), gave up just 11 first downs and had the ball for over 17 more minutes. Florida 31, South Florida 28Florida had its hands full the entire game as it went ahead early 3-0 but the Bulls drove 81 yards in 12 plays on its next possession to take a 7-3 lead which the Gators quickly took back on a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. South Florida cut the lead to 24-13 at halftime and then scored two additional touchdowns, the first one following an interception leading to an 18-yard drive. The Gators tossed another pick but intercepted it back three plays later and went 28 yards for the go ahead score. The Bulls were driving but had a bad snap to force a long third down and another bad snap prevented a tying field goal. The Bulls outyarded Florida 402-329 but ran 26 more plays and were outgained 6.9 to 5.4 yards per play. Rice 33, Louisiana 21Rice snapped the Louisiana 15-game winning streak in dominating fashion even though the score did not reflect that although it did not start out very good. In four first quarter possessions, the Owls punted, kicked a short field goal and threw two interceptions, one which was returned 54 yards for a touchdown before the offense settled down. Rice scored in five of its final seven possessions and after trailing 14-10, it outscored the Cajuns 23-7 the rest of the way. The Owls outgained Louisiana 449-175 and they were able to control the clock for over 24 more minutes, ran 37 more plays (80-43) and had 27 first downs compared to just nine for the Cajuns. Louisiana did not help itself as it had 11 penalties for 85 yards. Washington 39, Michigan St. 28Washington received the opening kickoff and went 77 yards in seven plays for a touchdown and never looked back. The Huskies did fail on fourth down at the Michigan St. two-yard line on their next possession but scored touchdowns in their next four possessions on drives of 50, 60, 65 and 70 yards while also scoring on a safety to build a 29-8 lead at halftime. Washington got the lead to 25 points early in the fourth quarter before the Spartans tacked on a pair of garbage touchdowns. The Huskies outgained Michigan St. 503-365 with 173 of those 365 yards allowed coming in the fourth quarter. The Spartans passing game was solid but they rushed for only 42 yards on 29 carries (1.4 ypc). New Mexico 27, UTEP 10It was a big first half for New Mexico as after exchanging punts on the opening possessions, the Lobos went 62 yards to kick a field goal for a 3-0 lead and then picked off a pass two plays later and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. UTEP put up a field goal near the end of the first quarter but Mexico scored 10 more unanswered points to take a 20-3 lead into the break. Overall, the Lobos offense was very average as they managed only 299 total yards on a 4.7 yards per play average but were able to hold the ball for over 13 more minutes. A large reason was because of the defense that allowed 353 yards but included only 54 yards rushing on 21 carries (2.6 ypc) while forcing seven turnovers. Clemson 48, Louisiana Tech 20The Tigers had their best offensive performance of the young season as they racked up 521 total yards after a slow start. Clemson never trailed but the first half could have gone either way as the Tigers were held to a 22-yard field goal on their first possession and after going up 10-0, Louisiana Tech was able to keep it tight and closed the half with a field goal to trail only 13-6 at the break. Clemson broke it open in the third quarter with three consecutive touchdowns which came after a pair of interceptions and a turnover on downs that accumulated only 152 yards and then scored its last touchdown on a 12-yard drive. The Bulldogs had only 317 yards of offense including six yards rushing on 20 carries (0.3 ypc). Texas 41, UTSA 20UTSA caught the Longhorns in early letdown mode as it forced a punt on the opening possession and went the other way for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead and after Texas countered with a touchdown, the Roadrunners went 65 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-7 lead. A surprising onsides kick was recovered by UTSA and it went 52 yards in two plays to take a 10-point lead before the Longhorns took over. Texas outscored the Roadrunners 34-3 the rest of the way as the defense forced four punts, stopped a pair of fourth downs and had an interception over the last eight possessions. Texas won the yardage battle 459-408 but on 25 fewer plays as it had a 7.8 to 4.9 yards per play advantage. Texas A&M 17, Miami Fla. 9The quarterback change for the Aggies did not help the offense very much but the defense carried them. Texas A&M and Miami traded field goals to open the game then the Aggies forced a fumble which led to a 28-yard touchdown drive toward the end of the first quarter. The offense lagged for the majority of the remainder of the game as Texas A&M punted in five of their final seven possessions while scoring just one touchdown and ended the first half at their own 44-yard line. The Hurricanes could muster only two more field goals despite outgaining the Aggies 392-264 but ran 25 more plays and the yards per play average was identical at 5.1. The three field goal drives totaled 219 yards of the Miami offense. Utah 35, San Diego St. 7After a scoreless first quarter, Utah opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 77-yard touchdown drive and then forced a punt and went another 82 yards on the next possession to take a 14-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Utes forced a fumble and went 27 yards to take a 21-0 lead into the break. Utah scored all five touchdowns on consecutive drives between the second and third quarters and the defense was strong throughout the entire game. In 11 defensive possessions, the Utes forced eight punts, had a turnover on downs and an interception and the only touchdown allowed came on a 25-yard drive with four minutes left as they held the Aztecs to 173 yards and nine first downs. USC 45, Fresno St. 17The USC offense was extremely efficient to start the game as it scored on its first three possessions on long touchdown drives that consisted of 12, 12 and 15 plays as the Trojans built a 21-3 lead before the Bulldogs got into the endzone late in the first half to cut the lead to 11 points at halftime. The second half started like the first half as USC scored touchdowns on its first three possessions while Fresno St. was ineffective in getting points as it had 252 yards in five second half possessions but scored only one touchdown as it fumbled, missed a field goal and turned it over on downs twice. USC outgained Fresno St. 517-421 but yards per play were even at 6.8 as the Trojans ran 13 more plays. Eastern Michigan 30, Arizona St. 21The Herm Edwards era came to an end following a loss to Eastern Michigan as the Sun Devils were dominated from the start. Eastern Michigan jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and after both teams traded a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, the Eagles retained that lead heading into halftime. Both teams had only four second half possessions and neither looked good on offense with the Eagles coming away with a pair of field goals and Arizona St. scoring a touchdown but also turned it over on downs, punted, and fumbled on its last drive. Eastern Michigan outgained the Sun Devils 458-352 but needed 18 more plays to do so as it was outgained 6.4 to 6.3 yards per play. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 3 (Part 1)

Monday, Sep 19, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action. Florida St. 35, Louisville 31Florida St. made a quarterback change after an injury to Jordan Travis in the second quarter and after a slow start Tate Rodemaker was clutch late. He managed just 12 yards of offense in two series and threw an interception in the first half but in the second half, he led them on three touchdown drives of 75 yards. The Seminoles opened the scoring after forcing a punt and going 61 yards for a touchdown and after spotting Louisville a pair of touchdowns, the Seminoles tied the game and eventually fell down another touchdown at halftime. The defense came on strong in the second half also as Florida St. held Louisville to 10 points and just 1-6 on third down. Louisville outgained Florida St. 495-455 but ran 14 more plays. Wyoming 17, Air Force 14Wyoming pulled off the upset as it was able to keep the Air Force rushing game in check. The Falcons entered the game ranked No. 1 in rushing offense with 508.5 ypg but were held to just 171 yards on 40 carries (4.3 ypc). Overall, the Cowboys outgained Air Force 342-272 and they were at their best in the first half as they held to Falcons to only 87 total yards while putting up 183 yards of offense to take a 10-0 lead. Air Force took the second half opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to pull to within three points and after forcing a punt, took the lead following an 80-yard touchdown drive. The Cowboys took the ensuing kickoff and went 75 yards for the game-winning score. Air Force had 0 penalties while Wyoming had only 3. Michigan 59, Connecticut 0Michigan dominated throughout the entire game as it outgained the Huskies 465-110 and it scored its first touchdown after only two minutes and never looked back. The Wolverines scored on nine of their first 12 possessions as they were forced to punt only twice while also missing a field goal. Connecticut did not cross midfield until late in the second quarter as it got to the Michigan 43-yard line but turned it over on downs and it never got into Wolverines territory again the rest of the game. Michigan had 26 first downs compared to only 6 for the Huskies and won the yards per play average 6.7 to 2.1 thanks mostly to an efficient passing game where they were 21-26 and averaged 13.0 yards per completion. Cincinnati 38, Miami Ohio 17Miami Ohio took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead and then the defense forced a fumble which set up a short field that resulted in a field goal. Cincinnati cut it to three points following an 80-yard touchdown drive but Miami was able to force another fumble and recovered it at the Bearcats 20-yard line to set up a three-play touchdown drive. Cincinnati scored on three of its next four possessions to take a lead into halftime as the defense continued its strong play. Miami did not score the rest of the way as it had only 83 total yards in its final nine possessions and was outgained 478-183. The RedHawks did not convert a third down until the fourth quarter and went 1-11 overall. Baylor 42, Texas St. 7The Bears went down the field 75 yards on the first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead and then after Texas St. went down to the Baylor 31-yardline, the Bears came up with a fourth down stop and went 69 yards to take a two-touchdown lead. The Bobcats were again stuffed on fourth down, this time at the Baylor four-yard line but did string together a 54-yard, five-play drive to cut it to 14-7 but the Bears took over for good. Texas St. had just 116 total yards over its final eight possessions while the Baylor offense scored in four of its last eight possessions but committed three turnovers as well. The Bears outgained Texas St. 501-268 including 293 (7.9 ypc) to 82 (2.4 ypc) on the ground. Oklahoma 49, Nebraska 14The post Scott Frost era got off to a good start early for Nebraska as it forced a three-and-out to open the game and went 77 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead but the Sooners took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards in five plays to tie the game. That was the first of seven unanswered touchdowns for Oklahoma before the Huskers scored a garbage touchdown late. Both teams were balanced on offense but the Sooners were more explosive in both facets as they outgained Nebraska 580-327 and won the yard per play average 6.9 to 4.3. Oklahoma rushed for 312 yards on 54 carries (5.8 ypc) while holding the Huskers to 163 yards on 45 carries (3.6 ypc) and the defense held Nebraska to 6-19 on third and fourth down. Georgia 48, South Carolina 7South Carolina was forced to punt on its first possession and Georgia went 82 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead and the rout was on. The Bulldogs scored in eight of its first nine possessions as they were forced to punt midway through the second quarter and punted only twice the entire game. Georgia outgained the Gamecocks 547-306 while having an 8.4 to 4.8 yards per play advantage. South Carolina entered Bulldogs territory four times in its first 10 possessions but threw two interceptions, punted once and turned it over on downs in the other one. The Gamecocks only score came with 53 seconds left in the game as over 35 percent of their total offense came in garbage time in the fourth quarter. Indiana 33, Western Kentucky 30Indiana opened the scoring with a field goal and eventually took a 10-7 lead but Western Kentucky went ahead early in the second quarter and took a 17-10 lead into halftime. The Hoosiers had to play catchup the rest of the way as they never led until the final gun. Down 30-22 with 3:46 left in regulation, Indiana went 75 yards in seven plays and scored with 47 second left while tacking on the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime where the Hoosiers blocked a field goal and made the winning kick from 51 yards four plays later. The Hilltoppers outgained Indiana 545-484 but had two costly turnovers, one deep in Indiana territory and one deep in their own territory that led to 10 Hoosiers points. Syracuse 32, Purdue 29A defensive battle flipped in the fourth quarter as after there were 12 points combined in the first half, Syracuse and Purdue combined for 42 points in the final 15 minutes. The Boilermakers took a six-point lead into halftime as they held the Syracuse offense to just 134 total yards and a field goal in the first half. There were five lead changes in the second half and the Orange looked to have to themselves in position to win the game following an interception return for a touchdown for a 25-15 lead with just over eight minutes left in the game but Purdue put together two touchdown drives to take the lead before Syracuse won the game with seven seconds left. Purdue outgained Syracuse 485-306 and went 10-17 on third down. Coastal Carolina 38, Buffalo 26Buffalo recovered a fumble on the first play of the game but had to settle for a 36-yard field goal. The Bulls forced another fumble four plays later but they fumbled it right back after three plays and Coastal Carolina went 43 yards in four plays to take a 7-3 lead. Buffalo was able to get into Chanticleers territory in its next three possessions but had to settle for two field goals and after giving the lead back again, the Bulls went 80 yards right before the half to take a two-point lead into the break. Coastal Carolina retook the lead for a good on a fumble recovery for a touchdown as it outscored Buffalo 21-7 in the fourth quarter. The Chanticleers outgained the Bulls 504-337 including 221-59 on the ground (7.9 ypc to 1.3 ypc). UCLA 32, South Alabama 31UCLA survived a home scare as it won by a point on a field goal as time expired. The Bruins picked off a pass four plays into the game but had to settle for a field goal and despite 129 yards in its first three possessions, UCLA managed only two field goals and eventually fell behind 17-6. A late first half touchdown and an early second half touchdown gave the Bruins a 23-17 lead but the Jaguars countered with a pair of touchdowns to regain the lead. They had a chance to extend the lead but did not convert a fake field goal and the Bruins went 61 yards in 10 plays for the game-winning score. UCLA outgained the Jaguars 407-399 as it ran only three more plays and had just one more first down. Rutgers 16, Temple 14After both teams punted on their opening possessions, Temple took its second possession 73 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Rutgers got onto the scoreboard late in the first quarter with a field goal and then took its first lead after retuning an interception 43 yards for a touchdown. The Scarlet Knights tacked on a pair of field goals to take a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter before the Owls got to within two points just two plays later after a 47-yard touchdown pass with 14:15 remaining but they got the ball back only one other time and failed on fourth down. Rutgers was outgained 264-201 and it averaged only 3.5 yards per play as the only turnover of the game proved to be the difference. Iowa St. 43, Ohio 10Iowa St. started the game by going 69 yards in 11 plays and scored the first 24 points of the game as it was never contested. The Cyclones eventually built a 37-3 lead as the defense held the Bobcats to a field goal, three turnovers and four punts in their first eight possessions. Iowa St. outgained Ohio 463-233 including 163 yards rushing on 32 carries (5.1 ypc) to 24 rushing yards on 22 carries (1.1 ypc). Overall, the Cyclones forced four turnovers that led to 20 points with the four drives needing only 75 total yards. Ohio was just 2-13 on third down and had only 12 first downs while getting sacked four times. The Iowa St. offense did have to settle four three field goals as it went only 5-14 on third down. Virginia 16, Old Dominion 14Old Dominion took its first lead of the game on an 80-yard touchdown drive with just 1:01 remaining in the game but a long kickoff return led to a 56-yard drive that set up the game-winning 26-yard field goal for Virginia as time expired. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Old Dominion forced two straight fumbles and turned the second one into a touchdown following a 64-yard drive. Virginia tacked on another field goal for a six-point lead and missed another one before the game winner. Virginia outgained the Monarchs 513-324 but managed only 16 points despite getting into Old Dominion territory nine times as they fumbled three times with 173 yards of offense lost with those. Notre Dame 24, California 17After a scoreless first quarter, California forced a fumble early in the second quarter and went 33 yards in four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Notre Dame returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards and went 60 yards in in 10 plays to tie the game at 7-7 but the Golden Bears got the lead back with a field goal to take a three-point lead into the half. The Irish opened the second half with another 60-yard touchdown drive before California once again flipped the score and after a field goal, the Irish took the lead for good with 9:16 left. Notre Dame recovered a fumble and took it the distance for a possible 14-point lead but was called back. Notre Dame outgained the Golden Bears 297-296 with California having an 18-17 first down edge. UNLV 58, North Texas 27UNLV went 65 yards on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead but the Mean Green returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to knot the game at 7-7. The Rebels blocked a punt on the first North Texas offensive possession which rolled out of the endzone for a safety and after North Texas took the lead with a field goal, UNLV scored a pair of touchdowns on consecutive drives to take a 13-point lead. North Texas scored the final 10 points of the first half and then the two teams exchanged touchdowns before the Rebels took over, outscoring the Mean Green 28-0 the rest of the way. UNLV outgained North Texas 576-474 but had the ball for over 17 minutes more and ran nine more plays. Tulane 17, Kansas St. 10Tulane took its third possession 91 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead but the Wildcats were able to take a 10-7 lead into halftime as the defense forced four punts and grabbed an interception in the other Five Green Wave possessions. The Tulane defense ruled in the second half as it shut out the Wildcats, forcing four punts and stopping Kansas St. on fourth down three times. The Green Wave had two scoring drives of 53 and 52 yards after two of those fourth down stops to score the final 10 points. Both teams had 336 total yards, Tulane had an 18-15 first down edge and both punted seven times as third down conversions were hard to come by as Tulane was 1-12 while Kansas St. was 2-15. UAB 35, Georgia Southern 21The Blazers scored touchdowns in three of their first four possessions but Georgia Southern would not go away lightly as it scored a late first half touchdown and added a late third quarter touchdown to cut the deficit to seven points. UAB opened the fourth quarter with a 71-yard touchdown drive but the Eagles countered with a 75-yard drive for a touchdown on their next possession. Georgia Southern then forced a three and out but threw an interception four plays into the drive in their own territory and the Blazers capped it with a 33-yard touchdown drive. The Eagles won the yardage battle 418-413 but ran 20 more plays including 30 more passes and were outgained 6.6 to 5.0 yards per play. Appalachian St. 32, Troy 28It was another wild game for Appalachian St. and it was a back-and-forth battle all day. The Mountaineers opened the scoring after grabbing a Troy interception on the first play of the game from scrimmage and went 33 yards in three plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Trojans came back on their next possession as they went 75 yards to tie the game and then took a touchdown lead on two different occasions and took a 21-14 lead into halftime. The Mountaineers took a three-point lead but Troy retook the lead and then took a safety in its own end zone to keep a two-point lead but Appalachian St. tossed a 53-yard Hail Mary as time expired to win the game. The Mountaineers outgained the Trojans 456-359.  Oregon 41, BYU 20The Ducks defense opened the game with a fourth down stop at their own 36-yard line and took the ball 64 yards in four plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Trailing 10-0, BYU closed the first quarter with a 75-yard, 10-play drive and then Oregon took over. The Ducks scored touchdowns on the next four possession, adding to six scoring drives in the first six possessions of the game, to go ahead 38-7 midway through the third quarter. The Cougars added a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter to make it more respectable. Oregon only outgained BYU 439-366 but the defense made four stops on fourth down, taking away 145 yards of Cougars offense that resulted in nothing. Conversely, Oregon was 3-3 on fourth down. Minnesota 49, Colorado 7Minnesota closed non-conference action with a third straight blowout as the Gophers scored early and often, building a 35-0 lead at halftime that was extended to 49-0 with most of the starters coming out midway through the second half. Minnesota outgained the Buffaloes 500-226 that included a 420-90 yardage edge through the first three quarters so it was a complete domination when the starters went against each other. The Gophers passing offense was the only below average aspect of the game for them as they were only 12-20 with an interception but did have three passing touchdowns to make it a little more respectable and overall Minnesota was 13-15 on third down while Colorado was 1-12. Penn St. 41, Auburn 12It was a competitive game early on as Auburn got on the board first with a field goal midway through the first quarter but Penn St. responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive to take a lead it would never give up. The Tigers closed to within one point on another field goal and Penn St. responded again with another long touchdown drive to take an eight-point lead into halftime. The Nittany Lions took over in the second half as they outscored Auburn 17-0 in the third quarter and 27-6 in the entire second half, allowing a garbage touchdown in the fourth quarter. Penn St. outgained the Tigers 477-415 as it allowed 296 yards passing but the defense stepped up by forcing four turnovers and sacking Auburn six times. Mississippi 42, Georgia Tech 0It was not a deceiving final score as Mississippi dominated from start to finish, opening the game with a five-play, 74-yard scoring drive that only took 1:21 off the clock. The Rebels scored a rushing touchdown in six of nine possessions through three quarters to build its 42-0 lead with the only blemishes being one punt, a missed field goal and an interception, the latter two resulting in 104 yards of their 547 yards of total offense and getting nothing. The defense pitched a shutout for the first time in eight years as Mississippi allowed only 214 yards and registered seven sacks. The Rebels outgained Georgia Tech on the ground with 316 yards on 62 carries (5.1 ypc) to 53 yards on 34 carries (1.6 ypc). Wisconsin 66, New Mexico St. 7Wisconsin bounced back from a home loss last week as it dominated the Aggies, outgaining them 595-242 and more than double the yards per play average at 9.0 to 3.7. The Badgers allowed only 92 total yards in the first half with 82 of those coming on one drive that resulted in a missed field goal by New Mexico St. right before the half. 112 of the Aggies yards came on their final two possessions so there was nowhere to go besides those three positive drives. Wisconsin punted only three times and of its nine touchdown drives, seven were on five plays or less as it faced only six third downs, converting two of those, while New Mexico St. was only 4-15 on its third down conversion attempts. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 2 (Part 2)

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action. Texas Tech 33, Houston 30Texas Tech dominated the first half with its defense as it took a 17-3 lead into halftime. The offense had three scoring drives of 65 or more yards but the other four first half possessions resulted in three punts that totaled 23 yards of offense and a missed field goal. Houston could get nothing going in the first half as it crossed midfield only three times and managed just one field goal. The Red Raiders were sloppy in the second half with three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and they needed a last second field goal to force overtime. Texas Tech outgained Houston 468-354 but it was deceiving as it ran 35 more plays which resulted in a 5.2 to 4.5 yards per play disadvantage. Middle Tennessee St. 34, Colorado St. 19Middle Tennessee St. bounced back with a big road win as it dominated from the start, jumping out to a 34-0 lead before Colorado St. made it look more respectable. The Blue Raiders returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game and the offense did its part after that, scoring on five of its first eight possessions with another 10 points coming off turnovers by the Rams. The defense was the real story as Middle Tennessee St. allowed 57 total yards in the first nine Colorado St. possessions, forcing three turnovers and six punts. The Blue Raiders outgained the Rams 380-246 including giving up -10 yards rushing 34 attempts (-0.3 ypc) in part due to having nine sacks for 70 yards. Illinois 24, Virginia 3It was not a good start for Illinois as it turned the ball over twice in its first six offensive plays but allowed just a field goal despite Virginia starting both drives in Illini territory. Illinois was then forced to punt in its next two possessions before the offense got on track, scoring touchdowns on its next two possessions on drives of 57 and 69 yards. The Illini had a chance to add more but fumbled at the goal line following a 96-yard drive and the offense stalled the rest of the way. The defense did the job going forward to make up for it and overall, the Illini outgained the Cavaliers 394-222 but was far from efficient with four turnovers and 10 penalties but did not allow a third down conversion (0-15). Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41It was bound to catch up for Nevada as it won its first two games thanks to a +9 turnover margin but it was even in this game and got lit up by FCS Incarnate Word. It did start in their favor as the Wolf Pack recovered a fumble on the second play of the game which led to a field goal and then intercepted a pass on the next play which led to a touchdown for a 10-0 lead. Nevada eventually built a 17-3 lead but Incarnate Word scored 35 unanswered points on four touchdown drives of 75, 82 65 and 56 yards while returning a fumble 59 yards for the other score. The Cardinals outgained Nevada 616-478 despite running 24 fewer plays as they had a 8.9 to 5.1 yard per play advantage but committed 19 penalties for 145 yards. Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31Buffalo jumped out to a 14-0 lead and eventually made it 21-7 before Holy Cross tied the game at 21 and then again at 28 before taking its first lead of the game 31-28 midway through the fourth quarter. Buffalo tied the game on a field goal with 31 seconds left but the Crusaders drove past midfield and won the game on a 46-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired. The offenses ruled the day as the first eight touchdown drives were all 62 yards or more and it was a clean game with no turnovers although Buffalo did commit 10 penalties for 91 yards. The stats were nearly identical as the Bulls outgained Holy Cross 464-457 on two fewer plays while having two more first downs. Liberty 21, UAB 14After forcing a three and out to open the game, UAB fumbled on its first offensive play but no damage was done. The Blazers punted on their next possession and fumbled again on the next drive but Liberty missed a field goal and UAB took advantage by going 80 yards in four plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Flames tied the game early in the second quarter which ended the scoring for both teams before the half. Liberty added a pair of touchdowns and was ready to put the game away but fumbled on its own 20-yard line and UAB punched it in but the Blazers never got the ball back as Liberty was able to run out the clock. The Flames outgained UAB 390-355 and benefitted from four fumbles. East Carolina 39, Old Dominion 21East Carolina went 70 yards on its opening possession but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal and after forcing a three and out, went 62 yards on the next possession to take a 9-0 lead. Old Dominion countered with a 75-yard touchdown drive and the Pirates were able to extend the lead to 16-7 at halftime thanks to a 13-play, 90-yard touchdown drive. The Monarchs got to within two points again after their first second half possession and then East Carolina took over with four scores on its next five possessions. The Pirates outgained Old Dominion 531-290, had a 30-12 first down edge and had the ball for nearly 22 more minutes. The Monarchs rushed for just 15 yards on 14 carries (1.1 ypc). Kansas 55, West Virginia 42The Mountaineers jumped ahead 14-0 and they scored a touchdown on their first four possessions to take another two-touchdown lead 28-14 before Kansas roared back. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown on three of their next four possessions to take a seven-point lead which eventually went to 11 points but West Virginia kicked a field goal and then tied the game with 35 seconds left to force overtime. Kansas scored on its overtime possession and then returned an interception 86 yards for the final margin. The Mountaineers outgained Kansas 511-419 but did run 12 more plays. The Jayhawks were efficient in the passing game and rushed for 200 yards on 36 carries (5.6 ypc) while going 11-15 on third down.Tulsa 38, Northern Illinois 35Tulsa took the opening kickoff and went 75-yards to take a 7-0 lead and eventually went ahead 17-0. Northern Illinois missed a field goal on its first possession and then after three straight punts, grabbed an interception which led to a touchdown but the Golden Hurricane went 69 yards in four plays to take a 24-7 lead into the break. The Huskies made the halftime adjustments and scored a touchdown on all three third quarter possessions and after trading touchdowns, Tulsa scored the game winner with 56 seconds left and intercepted a pass four plays later to seal the win. Tulsa outgained the Huskies 429-385 thanks to a potent passing attack that gained 322 yards on a 16.9 yards per completion average. Louisiana 49, Eastern Michigan 21The Eagles went 75 yards on their opening possession to grab a 7-0 lead and after punting on its next three possessions, they went 88 yards on 11 plays to take a 14-0 halftime lead. Louisiana had nothing going on offense, punting on its first four possessions and it had just 95 total yards when it began its second possession of the third quarter and then went off, scoring touchdowns on their next seven possessions. Eastern Michigan did have the lead 21-14 but 35 unanswered Cajuns points made it a runaway. The Eagles had five second half turnovers that led to 28 points and Louisiana outgained Eastern Michigan 459-361 as it held the Eagles to 41 yards rushing on 23 carries (1.8 ypc). Kentucky 26, Florida 16The Florida defense started strong as it forced Kentucky to punt on its first three possessions but the Gators only had a 3-0 lead before Kentucky finally scored by going 67 yards in two plays to take a 7-3 lead. Florida followed that up with another field goal then had an interception that led to a 34-yard touchdown drive and tacked on a safety to take a 16-13 lead at the half. The offense completely imploded in the second half as the Gators punted twice, threw an interception and turned it over on downs twice as they got outscored 13-0. Florida outgained Kentucky 279-272 yet managed only 12 first downs and allowed only 70 yards rushing on 38 carries (1.8 ypc) but gave up 15.5 yards per completion. Oklahoma 33, Kent St. 3Oklahoma did not dominate like it was expected to as it started the game with four straight punts and Kent St. was able to take a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Sooners finally got the offense going with a 76-yard drive capped by a 36-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the first half. Oklahoma scored on its first four second half possessions to put the game away but they struggled again late with only 31 total yards in the fourth quarter on four possessions. The Sooners won the yardage battle 430-295 as the Golden Flashes did do a good job keeping the ball away from Oklahoma as they had the ball for over 12 more minutes while the Sooners were just 3-12 on third down. Texas St. 41, Florida International 12Texas St. opened the game with a punt in its first possession and then forced Florida International to punt in its first two possessions and the Bobcats turned those into points with a field goal and a two-play, 68-yard touchdown drive. The Panthers responded with a field goal and two possessions later, Texas St. added a touchdown on another two-play drive that went 53 yards. Florida International added another field goal before halftime to make it a 14-point game. Texas St. pulled away in the fourth quarter with an interception for a touchdown capping the scoring. The Bobcats outgained the Panthers 452-313 and held them to 62 yards rushing on 22 carries (2.8 ypc) and just three rushing first downs. Syracuse 48, Connecticut 14Syracuse took control early as it jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and after allowing a touchdown, the Orange put up 10 more points to take a 27-7 lead to the half. Syracuse pulled away for good in the quarter as it completed a run of seven straight scoring drives to open the game that totaled 409 yards. The Huskies two scoring drives were 154 yards combined and their other nine possessions resulted in only 48 total yards that included six possessions that were three and outs. Syracuse outgained Connecticut 470-202 and ran 31 more plays while controlling the time of possession by almost 10 more minutes. The Orange rushing game was not good though with 156 yards on 51 carries (3.1 ypc). Toledo 55, Massachusetts 10The Rockets opened the game with touchdowns on their first four possessions, two coming on short fields after a punt and a turnover on downs and two longer scoring drives of 64 yards to account for the other two. Massachusetts was able to close the first half with a touchdown with seven seconds remaining to make it a 28-7 score but Toledo did not let up on offense as it scored in its first two possessions on 75 and 80-yard drives. The Minutemen added a meaningless 24-yard field goal with 23 seconds left. Toledo outgained Massachusetts 411-253, posting a 6.5 to 3.6 yard per play edge and the Minutemen were held to 48 yards passing on a mere 6.9 yards per completion. Weber St. 35, Utah St. 7The Utah St. offense started with a pair of punts and then after allowing a field goal after the second one, the Aggies returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown but little did it know, that would be it. After that, Utah St. had 12 possessions that resulted in four interceptions, five punts and three turnovers on downs with half of those drives producing single-digit yardage. Weber St. had no problem with its offense that worked the majority of the day on a short field and the Wildcats scored a 33-yard touchdown on one of those interceptions. Weber St. outgained the Aggies 401-283 and it nearly doubled Utah St. in completion average at 18.4 to 9.8 and held the ball for nearly 12 more minutes. Oklahoma St. 34, Arizona St. 17Arizona St. opened the game with the first score on a first quarter field goal and it took awhile for Oklahoma St. to get its offense going as in its first five possessions, it punted four times and threw an interception deep in Sun Devils territory. The Cowboys took the lead midway through the second quarter as they recovered a fumble and went 37 yards for a touchdown and they closed the first half with a pair of scores to take a 17-3 lead. Arizona St. did not go away as it cut the lead to three points before a pair of Cowboys touchdowns closed it. Oklahoma St. outgained Arizona St. 465-354 but it took 23 more plays and they were on the wrong end of the yard per play averages at 5.8 to 5.5Georgia Southern 45, Nebraska 42It was a fast paced game in the first half as Georgia Southern and Nebraska went back and forth and ended the first 30 minutes in a 28-28 tie while combining for 689 yards of total offense on 83 plays. The second half was also back and forth but not as explosive with just 31 total points as four of the five scoring drives were 75 or more yards. The Eagles regained the lead twice before Nebraska took a 42-38 lead with 3:05 remaining but Georgia Southern went 75 yards in 11 plays to take back the lead and Nebraska missed a game tying field goal as time expired. The Eagles outgained the Huskers 642-575 and while Nebraska won the turnover battle 2-0, it was hurt by 10 penalties that awarded the Eagles four first downs. USC 41, Stanford 28USC scored touchdowns on its first five possessions to take a 35-14 lead into halftime. The Trojans got a pair of third quarter field goals as the offense went basic vanilla with the game in hand and the Cardinal added two late garbage touchdowns to make it a more respectable final score. Four of those first five touchdown drives were 83, 93, 75 and 98 yards as USC racked up 505 yards of offense while Stanford had 441 yards but 145 of those were on those two late touchdown drives. Both teams completed 20 passes and it was the Trojans that were much more explosive as they averaged 17.1 yards per completion while the Cardinal had an average of 11.0. Stanford ran 17 more plays despite an even time of possession. Auburn 25, San Jose St. 16Auburn won an ugly game as it went into halftime trailing 10-7 and the Tigers opened the second half with a 69-yard touchdown drive to take the lead it would not give back. They scored on their first three possessions of the second half to build a double-digit lead and the Spartans would not go home quiet as they added a pair of field goals to make it a one possession game but failed on the onsides kick and Auburn was able to run out the final 2:11. The Tigers only outgained San Jose St. 378-329 but did run eight fewer plays and had a 6.2 to 4.8 yards per play edge. The passing defense gave up a lot of yards but did not break and the Tigers allowed only 54 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.9 ypc). Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 10After an interception on the Eagles second play from scrimmage, the Hokies scored a touchdown after a seven-play, 14-yard drive. Virginia Tech punted on its next possession and then scored on the next two drives to take a 17-0 lead. Boston College closed the first half with a field goal and opened the second half with a touchdown to cut the Hokies lead to seven points but the Virginia Tech defense stepped up by allowing 18 total yards over the final four Boston College possessions. The Hokies outgained the Eagles 284-155 and had the edge in yards per play at 4.1 to 2.6 so both offenses were not in synch. Virginia Tech held Boston College to four yards rushing on 26 carries (0.2 ypc) with five sacks helping that average. Michigan 56, Hawaii 10The Wolverines came out strong as expected as they scored touchdowns on six of eight first half possessions while forcing Hawaii to punt on all eight of its possessions in the first 30 minutes. Michigan led 42-0 at the break while outgaining the Warriors 410-51 and it let up the rest of the way with the game in hand. The Wolverines outgained Hawaii 588-253 and the Warriors yards were obviously skewed by going against the non-starters for most of the second half. Michigan faced only six third downs, converting two, and it averaged a whopping 10.7 yards per play by running only 55 plays while the defense allowed 7.0 fewer yards per play. There were only four penalties combined the entire game. UTEP 20, New Mexico St. 13UTEP took its opening possession 63 yards in 17 plays to set up a field goal and then each team drove deep into the opponents territory on their next possessions but turned it over, New Mexico St. with an interception and UTEP with a fumble. The Miners got back on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns just over a minute apart as they went 65 yards for a score and then recovered a fumble and scored again a play later to take a 17-0 lead into halftime. The Aggies cut the lead to 20-13 late in the fourth quarter and got the ball back but fumbled at the UTEP 14-yard line. The Aggies outgained UTEP 298-261 but all three turnovers proved costly. BYU 26, Baylor 20The Cougars jumped ahead early as it went 65 yards and had to settle for a 27-yard field goal. The defense did its job as it forced four punts on the first four Baylor possessions but its own offense mirrored that by punting on its next four possessions and the Bears scored the first touchdown late in the second quarter to take a 6-3 but the Cougars went 75 yard in eight plays to regain the lead. There were two more lead changes before the game was tied at 20 and BYU missed a field goal to win the game. The Cougars scored in the second overtime to win after a fourth down stop. BYU won the yardage battle 366-289 as penalties hurt both offenses, 14-117 for Baylor and 9-74 for BYU. Oregon St. 35, Fresno St. 32Oregon St. struck first on a 13-play, 47-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead and after Fresno St. tied the game on it next possession, the Beavers scored it second touchdown midway through the second quarter. The Bulldogs then scored on their next four possessions, two field goals to end the first half and 10 points to open the second half to take a nine-point lead and Oregon St. eventually retook the lead with 1:50 left in the game before the Bulldogs thought they won the game with a go ahead touchdown with 1:05 left but Oregon St. went 75 yards in five plays and scored the game winner as time ran out. Fresno St. won the yardage battle 492-397 but ran 11 more plays and had just a 0.4 yards per play edge. Mississippi St. 39, Arizona 17Arizona got on the scoreboard first as it went 75 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead but Mississippi St. scored 15 straight points and took an 18-10 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs opened the second half with a touchdown drive of 75 yards to go up by 15 points and then grabbed an interception but fumbled on their first play which led to a four-yard touchdown drive for Arizona. Mississippi put up the final two touchdowns to pull away. The Bulldogs outgained Arizona 426-316 and the run defense was stout as they allowed just 40 yards on 22 carries (1.8 ypc). Both teams committed three turnovers with Mississippi converting their into 14 points and Arizona converting theirs into 10 points. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 2 (Part 1)

Monday, Sep 12, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action. Louisville 20, Central Florida 14Louisville bounced back from a blowout loss last week as the defense stepped up on Friday. The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead but the Knights came back with their own long touchdown drive as they went 80 yards in 10 plays and after a punt on their next possession, they went the distance again with a 77-yard drive to take a touchdown lead. Louisville got into Knights territory three more times in the first half but missed a field goal, fumbled and ran out of time on the last drive before the half. The defense shut down Central Florida the rest of the way, not allowing a point over the last 10 possessions. Louisville outgained the Knights 421-339 and 5.7 to 4.7 yards per play. Boise St. 31, New Mexico 14After a scoreless first quarter, Boise St. struck first as after a pair of three and outs, the Broncos marched 91 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead and let the defense do the rest. Boise St. outgained the Lobos 318-123 and limited them to just eight first downs as the unit was able to make up for another lackluster offensive performance. New Mexico scored its only offensive touchdown on a 69-yard touchdown pass on its first play of the fourth quarter which accounted for over half of their total offense with the other touchdown coming on a 100-yard kickoff return. The Broncos offense averaged only 5.0 yards per play and were forced to punt nine times that included eight three and outs. Wake Forest 45, Vanderbilt 25Vanderbilt opened the scoring with a field goal after both teams traded punts on their first two possessions. Wake Forest looked to take the lead but was stopped on fourth down at the one-yard line and the defense made it up as it returned an interception for a touchdown. The defense then forced a punt and the Demon Deacons needed just one play to extend the lead on a 68-yard touchdown pass. Vanderbilt turned it over on the next possession leading to a short field as Wake Forest extended the lead to 21-3 and never looked back. The Demon Deacons outgained Vanderbilt 451-294 and had a 21-11 first down edge while Sam Hartman was excellent in his return with 300 yards passing and four touchdowns. Ohio St. 45, Arkansas St. 12Ohio St. took its first possession 96 yards for a touchdown but the Red Wolves responded with a field goal drive. The Buckeyes again went the length of the field for a score, forced another three and out and extended the lead to 17-3. Arkansas St. would hang around with a pair of field goals on their next two possessions to make it a one possession game but the Buckeyes added a touchdown for some breathing room before halftime and then the defense took over as they held the Red Wolves to 94 yards in the second half. Ohio St. won the yardage battle 538-276 despite a 14-minute disadvantage in time of possession as it averaged 10 yards per play compared to 3.6 for the Red Wolves. Miami Fla. 30, Southern Mississippi 7Miami and Southern Mississippi traded punts on their first possessions and the Hurricanes struck first as they got down to the Golden Eagles 12-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. Southern Mississippi took the ensuing kickoff and went 75 yards for a touchdown to take the lead and Miami could not get the offense going as it threw an interception and punted on its next two possessions before a 10-play, 86-yard drive gave it a 10-7 lead before the Half. The defense carried the Hurricanes the rest of the way as they allowed 122 total yards on the final seven Golden Eagles possessions, forcing five punts and two turnovers. The Hurricanes won the yardage battle 452-240 and allowed 33 yards rushing on 24 carries (1.4 ypc). Penn St. 46, Ohio 10Penn St. forced a punt after the opening kickoff and went 77 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead and after forcing another punt, the Nittany Lions scored on the next play with a 70-yard touchdown run and the blowout was on. They added a safety and another touchdown before Ohio finally got the offense going with a 75-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to 12 points but the Nittany Lions then ran off 27 unanswered points to pull away for good. Penn St. outgained the Bobcats 572-263 and while they rushed for 234 yards on 34 carries (6.9 ypc), the Nittany Lions went only 3-12 on third down while allowing five sacks. Ohio entered Penn St. territory only three times in 12 possessions. North Carolina 35, Georgia St. 28North Carolina escaped against a Sun Belt Conference team for a second straight week as it survived a late rally. The Tar Heels took the opening kickoff 75 yards in seven plays and then after a pair of three and outs, tacked on two more touchdowns to take a 21-3 lead. Georgia St. cut into the lead with a long touchdown drive and had a chance for more but missed a field goal before the half. The Panthers forced a pair of turnovers to open the second half and eventually took a 28-21 lead but the Tar Heels scored the final two touchdowns while forcing Georgia St. to punt four times over its final four possessions. North Carolina was -3 in turnover margin but the defense held Georgia St. to 4-16 on third down. Alabama 20, Texas 19Despite losing its starting quarterback early in the game, Texas hung around throughout the game and nearly pulled off the monumental upset. The Longhorns built a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter but Alabama retook the lead following a 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Texas made one last run and grabbed a 19-17 lead but left 1:29 on the clock and the Crimson Tide went 61 yards to set up the game winning field goal. Alabama outgained the Longhorns by only three total yards and the running game was the difference as the Tide rushed for 161 yards on 24 carries (6.7 ypc) while allowing Texas only 79 yards on 33 carries (2.4 ypc) and allowed just three third down conversions. Duke 31, Northwestern 23The Duke offense could not be stopped early as it scored touchdowns on its first three possessions that went 77, 80 and 90 yards while Northwestern was forced to punt twice and missed a field goal on its first three possessions. The Wildcats offense got rolling after that as they got into Duke territory in eight of their final nine possessions but scored on just four of those as they turned it over on downs twice and fumbled twice including the final possession where they were going for the potential game-tying touchdown but fumbled into the endzone with 12 seconds remaining. Northwestern outgained the Blue Devils 511-461 but ran 35 more plays and averaged just 5.4 yards per play compared to 7.8 for Duke. Arkansas 44, South Carolina 30After the Arkansas defense forced a punt on the first possession of the game, the offense went 63 yards for the first of three straight touchdowns to build a 21-3 lead but the Gamecocks were able to shut out the Razorbacks offense for the next 23 minutes. South Carolina scored a pair of touchdowns to cut the lead to five points heading into the fourth quarter but the Razorbacks got the offense rolling again with three touchdowns on their next four possessions to pull away. Arkansas won the yardage battle 457-416 but ran 18 more plays thanks to a ground game that rushed for 295 yards on 65 carries (4.5 ypc) while allowing the Gamecocks only 40 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.4 ypc) but did allow 15.7 yards per completion. UTSA 41, Army 38After losing the season opener in triple overtime, UTSA was forced to overtime again but pulled this one out. It was back and forth early but Army was able to take control as it went 75 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to end the first half and then took the opening second half kickoff and went 75 yards in nine plays to take a 28-14 lead. The Roadrunners then got their offense going as they scored a touchdown on their next three possessions but missed a field goal to win in regulation. The Roadrunners forced a field goal in overtime and won with a touchdown. They outgained Army 512-483 but gave up an unheard of 304 yards passing on a 23.4 completion average to the Black Knights. Kansas St. 40, Missouri 12The Wildcats surrendered a field goal on the Missouri opening possession but then took over after that as they went 75 yards on the ensuing possession to take a 7-3 lead. Kansas St. forced a punt that set up a 49-yard drive and another touchdown while returning the next punt 76 yards for a touchdown to break the game open. The defense allowed another field goal early in the third quarter and then intercepted a pass on the next four Tigers possessions but could get only 13 points off of those. Missouri scored a garbage touchdown with no time left after recovering a fumble. The Wildcats allowed only 222 total yards but their own offense managed just 336 yards as they went 4-13 on third down. South Alabama 38, Central Michigan 24South Alabama scored first to take a 6-0 lead and after the Chippewas grabbed a 7-6 lead, the Jaguars took over. They scored 25 points on their next four possessions and eventually built a 38-10 lead before Central Michigan made it look more respectable with a pair of late touchdowns. South Alabama outgained the Chippewas 502-338 as it ran 14 more plays and controlled the clock for 16 more minutes. The passing game led the way with 354 yards on a 13.6 completion average and while the running game kept the offense on the field, the Jaguars had only 148 yards rushing on 46 carries (3.2 ypc). The defense allowed just 81 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.0 ypc) and the Chippewas were just 4-19 on third and fourth down. Western Michigan 37, Ball St. 30Ball St. fumbled two plays into the game to set up a short field for Western Michigan and it took advantage by going 33 yards to take a 7-0 lead. The Cardinals scored on their next two possessions although one was a 20-yard field goal and after the Broncos regained the lead 14-13, Ball St. went 44 yards in just 27 seconds and kicked a field goal to take a lead into halftime. After Western Michigan scored touchdowns on two straight possessions to take the lead, Ball St. responded with an 85-yard touchdown drive but the Broncos capped the scoring with a 60-yard game winning touchdown run. Ball St. outgained the Broncos by 10 total yards despite running 15 fewer plays and having the ball for over eight less minutes. Marshall 26, Notre Dame 21Both teams punted and turned it over on downs on their first two possessions and Marshall struck first with a 79-yard touchdown drive and Notre Dame eventually took a 7-6 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter. Marshall took the ensuing possession 74 yards down to the Irish four-yard line and had to settle for a chip shot field goal to take a halftime lead. Notre Dame retook the lead early in the fourth quarter but the Thundering Herd got the lead back late in the quarter and then iced the game returning an interception 37 yards for a touchdown. Marshall outgained the Irish by 13 total yards with nearly even time of possession and both teams were just 4-13 on third down. Appalachian St. 17, Texas A&M 14After falling a two-point conversion short last week, Appalachian St. rebounded with a major upset at Texas A&M. The Mountaineers struck first after a fumble recovery led to a 29-yard touchdown drive but the Aggies responded by going 75 yards in seven plays and then their offense completely shut down. Texas A&M had only five possessions after that as its other touchdown came on a 95-yard kickoff return after Appalachian St. took a 14-7 lead and the Aggies mustered only 95 yards of offense while missing a game-tying field goal in the final minutes. The Mountaineers outgained Texas A&M 315-186 and held it to just nine first downs while possessing the ball for nearly 23 more minutes. Memphis 37, Navy 13Memphis took the opening kickoff and went 66 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead which it would never relinquish. After falling behind 10-0, Navy made it a three-point game after a 62-yard touchdown pass, one of only three completions on the day, but the Tigers outscored the Midshipmen 27-6 the rest of the way. They outgained Navy 506-314 and while the Tigers allowed 215 yards rushing, it was on 58 carries (3.7 ypc) and they forced three turnovers and stopped Navy twice on fourth down. Memphis had 415 yards through the air on a 17.3 completion average but the running game was held in check as the Tigers rushed for just 91 yards on 32 carries (2.8 ypc) and had only three rushing first downs. Maryland 56, Charlotte 21Maryland opened the game with a 79-yard touchdown drive in just five plays but Charlotte responded with a 16-play, 67-yard drive that took 7:12 to tie the game and then the Terrapins took over. While a 14-point lead was eventually cut in half, they were never in danger as the offense could not be stopped, scoring touchdowns on eight of their first nine possessions, with an interception being the only hiccup. Maryland outgained the 49ers 617-388 despite running 18 fewer plays as they averaged a healthy 10.0 yards per play compared to just 4.8 for Charlotte. The Terrapins finished 8-10 on third and fourth down while the 49ers finished 9-25 which included four fourth down conversions. Air Force 41, Colorado 10Colorado fumbled on its second play of the game to set up a short field and Air Force capitalized one play later with a 14-yard touchdown run. The Buffaloes managed only 14 total yards on their first five possessions which resulted in three punts and two turnovers as the Falcons built a 20-0 lead before Colorado finally put a touchdown drive together, going 71 yards on four plays. A fumble recovery led to a field goal that cut the lead to 10 points but the Buffaloes gained just 36 total yards in the second half. Air Force outgained Colorado 443-162 as the Buffaloes had just eight first downs and were only 5-21 passing for 51 yards. The Falcons racked up 435 yards rushing on 70 carries (6.2 ypc). Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 27The Volunteers fell behind by 10 points on two separate occasions in the first half before scoring 17 straight points to end the half with a seven-point lead. After trading field goals early in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh took advantage of a muffed punt by Tennessee that set up a short field which led to a 39-yard touchdown drive that actually took 10 plays in over five minutes. The Panthers deferred in overtime and allowed a touchdown before being held to five yards on eight plays to fall short. It was very even throughout as Tennessee won the yardage battle 416-415 and had one fewer first down and was clutch on defense when needed as it allowed only four third down conversions on 18 attempts. Washington St. 17, Wisconsin 14After scoreless first quarter, Washington St. took its first possession of the second quarter 53 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Wisconsin took the ensuing kickoff and went 65 yards to tie the game and then forced a punt with 55 seconds remaining in the first half and went 45 yards in 35 seconds to take a seven-point lead into the half. The Cougars opened the second half with a field goal and went ahead midway through the third quarter with a touchdown following an interception. Wisconsin got inside the Cougars 12-yard line on its last two possessions but turned it over both times. The Badgers outgained Washington St. 401-253 but the turnovers did them in as did 11 penalties for 106 yards. Michigan St. 52, Akron 0Akron opened the game with its best drive on the day as it went 55 yards but fumbled at the Michigan St. 20-yard line and never got past the Spartans 31-yard line the rest of the way. Overall, the Zips had 14 possessions which resulted in four fumbles, nine punts and a missed field goal. The Spartans were able to march at will but it was far from perfect early as in their first eight possessions, they scored 24 points on four of those while throwing two interceptions, turning it over on downs and punting once. They outgained Akron 496-225 with a very balanced offense and the defense allowed only 22 yards rushing on 27 carries (0.8 ypc) thanks in part to five sacks for 42 yards. Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57Eastern Kentucky was one of four FCS teams to defeat an FBS team and this one took seven overtimes. Bowling Green jumped ahead 10-0 after the first quarter but Eastern Kentucky went on a 31-7 run that included four straight scoring drives that totaled 276 yards which was sandwiched around a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Falcons responded with three straight touchdowns to take a seven-point lead but allowed the Colonels to drive 75 yards on 14 plays to tie the game with no time left in regulation. Eastern Kentucky knocked down a pass in the seventh overtime to seal the win. The Colonels had 12 more yards, one more first down and held a slight 5.3 to 5.1 yards per play edge. Iowa St. 10, Iowa 7Offense was non-existent for a second straight week for Iowa as it scored its lone touchdown on a 16-yard drive following a blocked punt. Not counting running the clock out at the end of the first half, Iowa had 11 other possessions that resulted in six punts, three turnovers that included a fumble at the Iowa St. one-yard line, a turnover on downs and a missed field goal with no time left that would have tied the game. The Cyclones were not efficient either as they had three turnovers and had two punts blocked while managing only 313 total yards. The go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter went 99 yards on 21 plays that took 11:49 off the clock. Iowa finished with 92 yards passing and 58 yards rushing. California 20, UNLV 14California started strong by scoring a touchdown on its first two possessions and had a chance for more but threw an interception at the UNLV 10-yard line on its third possession yet followed that up with a field goal and after gaining 285 yards on those first four drives, the Golden Bears had only 85 yards on offense the rest of the way. The Rebels eventually cut the California lead to six points midway through the third quarter but were unable to get another score over their final five possessions that included three failed fourth down attempts, the final one at the eight-yard line. UNLV was outgained 370-309 and had eight fewer first downs while going 2-16 on third and fourth down. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 1 (Part 2)

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action.Wyoming 40, Tulsa 37Wyoming took a 7-0 lead two plays into the game is it had a sack/fumble that was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown but Tulsa rallied to take the lead on three separate occasions including possessing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys came back to force overtime. Their points were also bolstered by special teams as they blocked a punt for a touchdown. Wyoming was outgained 521-399 but it ran 17 fewer plays and it was basically level at the yard per play average (6.0 to 6.2). The Cowboys showed good balance on offense but were just 5-15 on third down and while the defense gave up a ton of passing yards, they allowed only 61 yards rushing on 32 carries (1.9 ypc). BYU 50, South Florida 21This game was delayed for over two and a half hours because of the weather and South Florida came out flat. BYU scored on a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and before you knew it, the Cougars built a 38-0 lead and coasted from there. BYU scored on five of six offensive possessions in the first half, with the four touchdown drives all being 65 or more yards, as well as adding on an interception for a touchdown. South Florida started slow on offense as well as it totaled 80 yards in its first six possessions that included that interception, a turnover on downs and four punts. BYU outgained the Bulls 575-293 as it ran 13 more plays and had the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer. Nevada 38, Texas St. 14After winning the turnover battle 5-0 in its opener against New Mexico St., Nevada again took advantage with a 4-0 takeaway edge and it scored 21 points off those turnovers. Those three touchdown drives were all on short fields of 35, 45 and 20 yards. Texas St. won the yardage battle 277-274 as the defense played very well when it was not pinned deep in its own territory and it allowed only 130 yards rushing and 144 yards passing. The Bobcats were able to take advantage of the middle in the passing game, throwing for 289 yards but there was constant pressure in the backfield which hindered the deep passing game as they could not run the ball, rushing for -12 yards on 25 carries (-0.5 ypc). James Madison 44, Middle Tennessee St. 7The Dukes first game as an FBS member was a resounding success. After a scoreless first quarter, James Madison turned it on by scoring 37 unanswered points as it dominated on both sides of the ball. The Dukes outgained Middle Tennessee St. 548-119 as they dominated the time of possession by close to 14 more minutes and ran 24 more plays from scrimmage. They were balanced on offense, passing for 287 yards while rushing for 261 yards and they were just as good on defense, allowing just 107 yards through the air while holding the Blue Raiders to 12 yards rushing on 28 carries (0.4 ypc). Prior to its touchdown drive, Middle Tennessee St. had 20 yards of offense in its first 10 possessions. Ohio 41, Florida Atlantic 38Florida Atlantic controlled the game early before Ohio took over in the second half and the Bobcats had to withstand a ferocious rally from the Owls. Florida Atlantic took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a score to take a 7-0 lead and never trailed in the first half, taking a 17-13 lead into the break. Ohio scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions of the second half to take a 17-point lead but the Owls scored three late touchdowns and got the ball with 1:37 remaining in the game but turned the ball over on downs with 32 seconds to go. It was almost a dead even game with Florida Atlantic winning the yardage battle 478-476, nearly equal first downs with both rushing and passing fairly similar. Southern California 66, Rice 14It took a little while for USC to take control of this game as it was tied 7-7 after one quarter but then used two long touchdown drives on offense and returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown to pull away. After building a 17-point halftime lead, the Trojans had two more interception returns for touchdowns in consecutive possessions to start the third quarter as the defense completely dominated the half. USC outgained Rice 538-280 and in seven second half possessions on defense, the Trojans allowed only 52 total yards. USC rushed for 208 yards on 28 carries (7.4 ypc) while completing 83 percent of its passes for 330 yards and scored on seven of its first eight offensive possessions. Coastal Carolina 38, Army 28This was a back and forth game for most of it until Coastal Carolina took the lead for good late in the third quarter, eventually building a 10-point lead with the defense making a late stand. The Chanticleers outgained the Black Knights 437-344 as they ran 23 more plays and had over a 12-minute advantage in time of possession. The Army offensive numbers are a bit skewed as of those 344 yards, three came from big gains, as the Black Knights had plays of 73, 70, and 54 yards, accounting for 57 percent of the offense. Coastal Carolina was exceptional at stopping the Army run game, allowing only 202 rushing yards as a lot of that can be given credit to the offense that kept its defense off the field. Florida 29, Utah 26Utah led for most of this game until it counted as it allowed the go ahead touchdown with 1:25 remaining and came up just short in a late rally. Neither team had more than a six-point lead in the game and they finished only five yards apart with Florida winning the yardage battle 451-446. The Gators opened the game by driving deep into Utah territory but fumbled the ball and the Utes went just 25 yards on five plays to take the lead until Florida tied it up and eventually took a one-point lead into halftime. The Gators had to punt on their first possession of the second half but then had two 75-yard touchdown drives to take the lead and picked off a pass in the endzone after Utah drove to the six-yard line. Kentucky 37, Miami (OH) 13Miami took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to take an early 7-0 lead and the teams went back and forth the entire first half while the Wildcats clung to a three-point lead at halftime. They broke it open by returning the second half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and then recovered a fumble two plays later which led to an eight-yard touchdown drive to go up 17 points and never looked back. The defense came through by allowing only three second half points and overall they outgained the RedHawks 353-290. The offense was very efficient in the passing game as they threw for 303 yards with a 14.4 completion average but the rushing offense needs work after 50 yards gained on 26 carries (1.9 ypc). Liberty 29, Southern Mississippi 27Liberty won a thrilling four-overtime game with a stop on the final play for the two-point victory. After a scoreless first quarter, Southern Mississippi struck first with a field goal before Liberty scored 10 points off two interceptions as the offense had just 28 yards on those two scores. The Golden Eagles tied the game early in the third quarter and then took the lead in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown. After trading touchdowns, the Flames then went 81 yards and forced overtime with a touchdown with 36 seconds left. Liberty outgained Southern Mississippi 447-391 but needed 15 more plays to do so. Penalties hurt both sides with Liberty hit with 12 and the Golden Eagles with 10. Tulane 42, Massachusetts 10Tulane never trailed and it took the lead for good midway through the second quarter as after the Minutemen tied the game at 7-7, the Green Wave took the ensuing kickoff and drove 77 yards to take a seven-point lead. They picked off a pass three plays later and scored another touchdown three plays after that. Tulane only allowed three more points the rest of the way and the defense locked down in the second half, allowing just 65 total yards. The Green Wave outgained Massachusetts 369-217 as they held the Minutemen to only 17 yards passing on four completions and while they did allow 200 yards rushing, that was on 58 carries so the 3.4 ypc average allowed was solid. The offense was not great but showed balance. Alabama 55, Utah St. 0Alabama pitched the shutout and it could not be contained on either side of the ball. The Tide outgained Utah St. 559-136 and had a 30-7 first down edge in basically what was three quarters from their starters. The Tide scored on their first nine offensive possessions including five of seven touchdown drives that were 60 yards or longer and they did not punt until late in the third quarter. Defensively, they were just as good as Utah St. opened the game with a 25-yard drive that resulted in a punt and that was the longest drive allowed until an Aggies 39-yard possession early in the fourth quarter. Overall, Alabama forced 10 punts and forced Utah St. to turn it over on downs twice but had no takeaways. Mississippi St. 49, Memphis 23A lengthy weather delay halted this game for about two hours but it was a Bulldogs domination before and after. Mississippi St. scored on its first two possessions with touchdown drives of 75 and 88 yards to take a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. After Memphis tacked on a field goal which was aided by a Bulldogs interception, Mississippi St. tacked on two more touchdowns to pull away. The Bulldogs outgained the Tigers 547-294 as they ran 83 plays compared to just 51 for Memphis as they controlled the clock for over 22 more minutes. The passing game was solid but Mississippi St. ran for just 97 yards on 34 carries (2.9 ypc) and while the defense gave up just 129 yards rushing, it was on a 6.1 ypc clip. SMU 48, North Texas 10After a three and out to open the game, the SMU offense took over with scores on five of its next six possessions with those five scoring drives all generating at least 51 total yards. The Mustangs jumped ahead 14-0 before North Texas tacked on a field goal and then after the Mean Green cut the lead to 24-10 late in the second quarter, SMU threw a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next play to start a 24-point unanswered run to close out the game. SMU outgained the Mean Green 576-422 and while that yardage variance seems closer than expected, it ran 15 fewer plays and had the ball for 10 minutes less and had a yard per play advantage of 8.7 to 5.2. North Texas was a combined 7-21 on third and fourth down. Ohio St. 21, Notre Dame 10The marquee game of the night lived up to its billing as it was a one possession game until late in the fourth quarter when Ohio St. sealed the win by going 95 yards on 14 plays in 7:06 to make it an 11-point lead. Notre Dame held the potent Ohio St. offense in check for most of the game as it allowed only 10 points and 211 yards through close to 45 minutes before the Buckeyes regained the lead with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Irish allowed just 395 yards to Ohio St. which was a win in itself but the offense generated only 253 yards as they had just 177 yards through the air although it was at a 17.7 completion averaged and they rushing for 76 yards on 30 carries (2.5 ypc). South Carolina 35, Georgia St. 14South Carolina had its hands full for over a half but pulled away late thanks to special teams. It was a scoreless first quarter and the Gamecocks were setting up for a field goal early in the second quarter but faked it to pick up the first down and eventually found the end zone. They tacked on a pair of field goals to take a five-point lead into halftime but Georgia St. picked off a pass on the second play of the third quarter and converted that into a touchdown for their first and only lead. South Carolina scored the final 23 points to pull away thanks to a pair of blocked punts returned for touchdowns. South Carolina was actually outgained 311-306 as it could not run on offense and it could not stop the run defensively. Syracuse 31, Louisville 7Syracuse took a 10-0 lead following a 31-yard field goal and after forcing a punt, it went 87 yards on five plays capped off by a 55-yard touchdown pass. It took Louisville just 3:44 to cut the lead back to three points but then it was all Syracuse the rest of the way. The Orange scored another touchdown on their next possession and then after three straight punts, they pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter set up by a pair of takeaways. Despite the lopsided score, the Orange only outgained Louisville 449-334 and their 6.8 yards per play average was not far better than the 6.2 for the Cardinals. Louisville had 167 yards wasted because of turnovers and failed fourth downs. Texas 52, ULM 10The Longhorns were never in danger but they did not dominate like the final score shows. They outgained ULM 383-259 as they benefitted from good field position which can definitely skew offensive numbers as not as good as they could have been had they had a longer field. Of their six offensive scoring possessions, five started at their own 36-yard line or better. Texas also got touchdowns from the defense and special teams from an interception and a blocked punt. The Longhorns defense was outstanding as they did not allow a drive of more than 37 yards until late in the fourth quarter on the Warhawks lone touchdown effort that went 83 yards, accounting for over 30 percent of their total offense. Oregon St. 34, Boise St. 17It did not start great for Oregon St. as it fumbled on its first possession and went three and out on its second one then the offense got going as it scored a pair of touchdowns on relatively short fields thanks to an interception and good field position after a punt. The Beavers scored twice in the second quarter starting with a field goal after recovering a fumble at the Boise St. six-yard line and then after throwing their own interception, they got it back after another fumble and went 98 yards for a touchdown so there were 17 points scored off turnovers. Overall, Oregon St. outgained Boise St. 470-311 thanks to a potent passing game that averaged 19.5 yards per completion. The Broncos had five turnovers overall. Washington 45, Kent St. 20The season started the wrong way for Kent St. as it received the opening kickoff and threw an interception on their first play which led to a short field and Washington converted four plays later to take a 7-0 lead. The Huskies forced a punt and went 90 yards to double the lead and Kent St. had no answers of defense as Washington scored on its first six possessions including five touchdowns with four of those drives totaling 74 or more yards. Kent St. did cut the lead to 18 points early in the fourth quarter but it was too late. The Huskies won the yardage battle 525-340 as the defense was nothing special expect for three interceptions and they allowed the Golden Flashes to convert 10-17 on third down. Western Kentucky 49, Hawaii 17Hawaii got blasted at home for a second straight week as a promising start went south quickly. The Warriors got the opening kickoff and went three and out but they recovered the ensuing muffed punt at the three-yard line yet went backward and had to settle for a field goal. After getting nothing on their first two possessions, the Hilltoppers tacked on a pair of touchdowns on a long drive and an interception return before Hawaii was able to cut the lead back to four points but then Western Kentucky took over with 21 unanswered points to put the game away early in the fourth quarter. The Warriors were only outgained 412-360 but they had five turnovers that led to 24 points as well as 12 penalties. Florida St. 24, LSU 23LSU started the scoring with a field goal to take a 3-0 lead after the first quarter but Florida St. scored the next 17 points then the Tigers offense finally woke up. They were able to cut the deficit to seven points following an 82-yard touchdown drive and then after yielding another touchdown, LSU once again put together a solid drive of 75 yards to make it a seven-point game again. Then it got crazy. The Tigers forced a punt and muffed it for the second time in the game which set up a short field but the Seminoles fumbled at the one-yard line and LSU went 99 yards for the apparent tying score but had the extra point blocked. The numbers were fairly even across the board as turnovers and special teams were the difference. Clemson 41, Georgia Tech 10It was a very slow start for both teams as the first four possessions for Clemson resulted in three punts and a fumble and the first four Georgia Tech drives resulted in four punts with the last one being costly. The Tigers blocked it which set up a five-yard touchdown drive and then after a missed Yellow Jackets field goal, Clemson went 67 yards on eight plays to take a 14-0 lead. Georgia Tech scored the next 10 points but then the Tigers defense stepped up as they allowed only 45 total yards on 21 plays the rest of the way. Another blocked punt late set up another touchdown that put it away. Clemson outgained the Yellow Jackets 386-237 as the offense picked it up late and the defense was great, allowing only 3.6 yards per play. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 1 (Part 1)

Monday, Sep 05, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action. Oklahoma St. 58, Central Michigan 44Central Michigan outgained Oklahoma St. 546-531 but those overall numbers are skewed. The Cowboys dominated the first half and after opening the second half with a touchdown to take a commanding 51-15 lead, most of the starters left the field and the Chippewas put up late garbage points and numbers. Over the next seven possessions, Central Michigan scored four touchdowns that accumulated nearly half of its total yardage output while the Cowboys punted on six of their final seven drives not counting the last kneel down possession that ended the game. Oklahoma St. had the ball for over 12 minutes less and ran 15 fewer plays which gave it a 7.3 to 6.2 yard per play advantage. Pittsburgh 38, West Virginia 31Pittsburgh won a back and forth game thanks to a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:58 remaining. West Virginia had one last opportunity and drove down to the Panthers 28-yard line before turning it over on downs. The Mountaineers won the yardage battle 404-384 as each team dominated one aspect. West Virginia had 190 rushing on 33 carries (5.8 ypc) while the Panthers had just 76 yards rushing on 38 carries (2.0 ypc) but Pittsburgh threw for 308 yards (19.3 yards per completion) compared to the Mountaineers passing for 214 yards (9.3 yards per completion). Pittsburgh scored 14 points off two turnovers, the other being a fumble resulting in only a 35-yard drive. Tennessee 59, Ball St. 10It was all Tennessee from the start as the Volunteers scored on six of seven first half possessions and nine of its first 10 before calling off the troops in the fourth quarter. The Volunteers outgained Ball St. 569-343 and took advantage early as they jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead thanks to an interception on the first play of the game and two fourth down stops that led to three scoring drives totaling only 103 yards and Ball St. managed only 86 total yards on its first seven possessions. The Cardinals could not run the ball, gaining only 74 yards on 27 carries (2.7 ypc) and overall, it committed 12 penalties for 83 yards, four of which led to first downs. Tennessee was a perfect 7-7 inside the redzone. Missouri 52, Louisiana Tech 24Louisiana Tech had the only points in the first quarter on a 33-yard field goal and then Missouri woke up by scoring 21 unanswered points. The Tigers returned an interception for a touchdown and used a short field on the other two scoring drives that accumulated just 77 total yards. The Bulldogs responded with a one-play, 75-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 11 points but then Missouri tacked on 17 straight points to pull away. The Tigers outgained Louisiana Tech 558-344 with the rushing game being the difference as they had 323 yards on the ground on 50 carries (6.5 ypc) while holding the Bulldogs to eight yards rushing on 22 carries (0.4 ypc). Missouri did commit 10 penalties for 100 yards. Penn St. 35, Purdue 31The numbers were very even in this back and forth game that came down to the final minute. Penn St. built a 21-10 halftime lead that was culminated by a recovered fumble with 30 seconds remaining and turned it into a two-play, 82-yard touchdown drive in 28 seconds. Purdue came out of the second half and scored on two long touchdown drives to retake the lead while Penn St. went ahead again early in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions had a chance to make it a two-possession game but Purdue intercepted a pass for a 75-yard touchdown to take another lead but Penn St. was able to get the ball one last time with 2:22 left and went 80 yards on eight plays for the game-winning score. Minnesota 38, New Mexico St. 0The Golden Gophers completely dominated this game as they outgained New Mexico St. 485-91 while winning the first downs 31-6 and taking the time of possession by 29 minutes. Minnesota scored on its first six possessions which were all 59 yards or more and it did not punt until there was less than five minutes remaining in the game. Over half of the Aggies yards came on one possession in the third quarter as they went 54 yards but it resulted in an interception, the only time the whole game they crossed midfield. The Gophers were efficient in all aspects as they dominated the ground game (5.2 ypc to 1.8 ypc), completed 70 percent of their passes while allowing only 33 percent and went 11-14 on third down. Michigan St. 35, Western Michigan 13Michigan St. outgained the Broncos 430-334 but this game was still up for grabs late in the fourth quarter. Western Michigan fell behind 21-3 at halftime but was able to score 10 points in the third quarter to make it a one possession game and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter but were forced to punt and Michigan St. went 91 yards on eight plays to make it a 15-point game. The Spartans then made a fourth down stop near midfield and scored on a 43-yard touchdown pass to ice the game. Western Michigan won the time of possession by close to 15 minutes which resulted in 17 more plays yet overall managed just 4.6 yards per play compared to 7.7 yards per play for Michigan St. Old Dominion 20, Virginia Tech 17Points were a premium as both teams made crucial mistakes but it was Virginia Tech that stumbled too much. The Hokies jumped ahead 7-0 early in the first quarter and after three punts to open the game, Old Dominion picked off a pass which led to a field goal and then two possessions after that, the Monarchs returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown to take a lead into halftime. The Hokies responded with 10 third quarter points, the touchdown coming by way of a fumble recovery at the Old Dominion 10-yard line and scoring three plays later. The Monarchs went 74 yards on nine plays for the game winning touchdown with 33 seconds left. The Hokies had five turnovers while committing 15 penalties. Duke 30, Temple 0This game was never in doubt as Duke outgained Temple 500-199 and the scoring margin could have been a lot bigger as the Blue Devils were just 1-9 on third down which led to six field goal attempts that resulted in three makes and three misses. Duke was very efficient in the passing game, offensively going 24-30 for 328 yards and a 13.7 average completion rate while on defense, it allowed under 50 percent completions for 114 yards and 3.9 yards per attempt. Temple managed only 65 yards rushing on 29 carries (2.2 ypc) but somehow managed six rushing first downs, half of its overall total. The Owls did not cross midfield until the second half as they had just 35 total yards in the first half. Indiana 23, Illinois 20Illinois outgained Indiana 448-362, had nine more first downs and controlled the clock for over 13 more minutes but had four turnovers. After falling behind 16-10 at halftime, the Illini intercepted a pass two plays into the second half that turned into the go ahead touchdown. They made it a four-point game late in the fourth quarter and after holding the Hoosiers to 85 total yards on their first six second half possessions, Indiana went 75 yards in 12 plays to score the game winning touchdown with 23 seconds remaining. The Illinois offense sputtered late as it got into Indiana territory on four straight possessions but resulted in just one field goal as it had a fumble, and interception and a turnover on downs at the Indiana four-yard line. TCU 38, Colorado 13Colorado dominated the first half as it outgained the Horned Frogs 197-62 but it could manage only two field goals in five possessions as it turned it over on downs twice. The Buffaloes trailed 7-6 at the half as the lone TCU score came on a 60-yard punt return touchdown but then TCU took over. The Horned Frogs scored on their first five second half possessions, racking up 323 yards on those drives while the defense allowed 71 yards on the first four Colorado possessions of the half before the Buffaloes went 75 yards on eight plays for a garbage touchdown with just over a minute left. TCU did not have to throw much as it ran at will with 275 yards rushing on 30 carries (9.2 ypc) and overall averaged 7.8 yards per play. Ole Miss 28, Troy 10Mississippi jumped ahead 21-0 as Troy could get nothing going on offense as it managed only 59 total yards on its first five possessions before going 47 yards in its final first half drive that resulted in a field goal. The second half was bad for both teams as the Rebels scored a touchdown to open the half but their next five possessions ended with three turnovers and two punts while gaining only 57 yards. The Trojans had more production as they had six drives that totaled 220 yards but scored only one touchdown as they had a fumble, an interception and turned it over on downs three times. The Rebels had 266 yards rushing on 44 carries (6.0 ypc) while holding Troy to 60 yards on 33 carries (1.8 ypc). North Carolina 63, Appalachian St. 61The wildest game of the weekend took place here as exactly half of the 124 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Appalachian St. jumped ahead first and took a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter before North Carolina ran off 34 consecutive points to take a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before the Mountaineers rallied. They scored touchdowns on all five possessions in the quarter and had a chance to take the lead with 31 seconds left after a touchdown but missed the two-point conversion. That forced an onsides kick which the Tar Heels ran in for a touchdown but the Mountaineers responded again with a quick score but failed another two-point try to tie. Appalachian St. won the yardage battle 649-567. Rutgers 22, Boston College 21Boston College led pretty much throughout as it scored the first touchdown and had a 21-12 lead midway through the third quarter before Rutgers made it a one possession game with a field goal to end the quarter. The Eagles were able to get the ball two more times in the fourth quarter but were forced to punt both times after gaining only two total yards. After the first punt, the Scarlet Knights got the ball at their own four-yard line and were able to go 96 yards in 12 plays for the go ahead touchdown. Boston College was forced to punt the second time from its own 10-yard line with 1:51 left and never got it back. Rutgers had 212 yards rushing (5.0 ypc) and Boston College managed just 29 yards rushing (1.0 ypc). NC State 21, East Carolina 20East Carolina threw an interception on its second play of the game but the defense forced a three and out and the offense recovered by going 70 yards on seven played to take the 7-0 lead. The NC State defense took over by forcing five punts, one blocked for a touchdown, and grabbing another interception on the next six Pirates drives to close the first half while the offense had two long drives to take a two-touchdown lead. Then it was the East Carolina defense that held its own as it did not allow a second half point and in five possessions, forced two punts, had an interception, recovered a fumble at the one-yard line and had a fourth down stop at the three-yard line. East Carolina missed an extra point and a game winning field goal with nine seconds left. Maryland 31, Buffalo 10Maryland outgained Buffalo 446-268 despite running 12 fewer plays as it nearly doubled up the Bulls in yards per play at 7.3 to 3.7. Buffalo did have more first downs (18-16) with half of those coming via the rush despite gaining only 108 yards on 38 carries (2.8 ypc). The Terrapins offense was inconsistent as they had three touchdown drives of 75 yards or more but also punted five times including four three and outs and additionally turned it over on downs and had an interception. The defense was much better as it did allow a 75-yard touchdown drive and an 85-yard field goal drive but forced seven punts where they allowed only 19 total net yards and Buffalo was just 5-18 on third and fourth down combined. Michigan 51, Colorado St. 7This game was never in doubt thanks to the Michigan defense that did not allow the Rams to cross midfield until late in the third quarter and allowed only 97 total yard up to that point. Colorado St. did generate 122 yards in garbage time where it managed its only score and while the Wolverines offense did score 51 points, scoring on eight of 10 possessions, they only had 440 total yards and a lot of those came late when the game was already decided as 190 yards were on their final three possessions. Michigan was forced into three field goals and finished the day just 3-10 on third down attempts as it struggled in long down spots. The running game was fine though as the Wolverines had 234 yards rushing on 40 carries (5.9 ypc). UCLA 45, Bowling Green 17The setting was ideal for Bowling Green as UCLA had no home field edge with a morning start and no fans and the Broncos took advantage early as they blocked an opening punt for a touchdown and built a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter until the Bruins took over. After that opening block debacle, UCLA got into Bowling Green territory on its last 13 possessions although it did score only seven times as it missed two field goals, threw an interception and turned it over on downs. Still, the Bruins outgained Bowling Green 626-162 so they did dominate overall, especially on the ground where they had 269 yards rushing on 45 carries (6.0 ypc) compared to 37 yards rushing on 25 carries (1.5 ypc) for the Falcons. Arkansas 31, Cincinnati 24Arkansas built two-touchdown leads on three separate occasions but the game was not decided until late. Cincinnati cut those leads to a touchdown each time as it put together scoring drives of 75, 71 and 75 yards, the last coming with 5:49 left which was plenty of time to get the ball back. The Razorbacks were able to pick up three first downs, two on third down conversions, and ran out the clock. Despite never holding a lead, Cincinnati was only outgained 447-427, had one more first down, 24-23, and held the ball longer but could not convert early in the game. The Bearcats were inside the Arkansas 30-yard line three times but missed two field goals and threw an interception which played into the first half shutout. Georgia 49, Oregon 3The Bulldogs started right where they left off as they outgained Oregon 571-313 with both sides executing nearly flawless. Offensively, the passing was outstanding with 439 yards on 14.6 yards per completion and while they rushed for only 132 yards, they did so at a 5.3 ypc clip. The defense was every much as impressive as Georgia nearly pitched a shutout with a bend and do not break result, allowing Oregon into the redzone only twice after allowing a combined 145 yards in over 13 minutes but giving up just the field goal and stopping the Ducks on fourth down at the two-yard line. Overall, the Bulldogs doubled up Oregon in yards per play at 9.2 to 4.6 and the one real negative was seven penalties for 75 yards. Oklahoma 45, UTEP 13Any doubts on Oklahoma were put to rest early as the Sooners took the opening kickoff 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown and overall, they scored three touchdowns on three first quarter possessions totaling 223 yards of offense. UTEP did score the next 10 points but Oklahoma took over again with 21 unanswered points before they traded fourth quarter field goals. As expected, the Sooners dominated on the ground, rushing for 259 yards on 38 carries (6.8 ypc) while holding the Miners to 28 yards rushing on 31 carries (0.9 ypc). Oklahoma was outpassed 288-233 but UTEP had over double the attempts and the Sooners had a big edge in completion average at 15.5 to 9.3 while throwing two touchdowns and allowing none. Arizona 38, San Diego St. 20Arizona jumped out an early 10-0 lead and increased that to 24-10 at halftime as it scored on four of six possessions but did commit two turnovers on the other two drives. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff of the second half 75 yards in five plays to increase the lead to 21 points and coasted the rest of the way. The only other San Diego St. touchdown came on an Arizona punt that was kicked into a lineman and picked up by the Aztecs for a touchdown. The Wildcats outgained San Diego St. 461-232 and had the first down edge 25-14 as the rushing yards were almost identical at 170-162 favoring San Diego St. but Arizona held the Aztecs to just 62 yards through the air on a mere seven completions. Houston 37, UTSA 35Houston escaped UTSA in triple overtime despite getting outgained 441-346 yet it held nearly an 11-minute advantage in time of possession. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars stopped UTSA on fourth down on its own 42-yard line and went 58 yards on 11 plays to take the 7-0 lead before the Roadrunners scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Houston took its first possession 75 yards for a touchdown and then picked off a pass and scored one play later to tie the game. The Cougars forced a punt and drove 77 yards while taking up over 10 minutes and took the lead on a field goal with 23 seconds left but UTSA went 55 yards to send it to overtime with a tying field goal. 

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NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 0

Monday, Aug 29, 2022

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action.Western Kentucky 38, Austin Peay 27Western Kentucky outgained Austin Peay by only 61 total yards, was equal in first downs with 19 and had the ball for over five minutes less but had a +3 takeaway advantage and scored 21 points off turnovers. The Governors closed the first quarter with a 10-7 lead but the Hilltoppers scored the next two touchdowns, the second on a 34-yard interception return. Austin Peay pulled to within a point in the middle of the third quarter but Western Kentucky opened the fourth with a 71-yard touchdown drive and then recovered a fumble four plays later which led to a three-play touchdown drive. The Governors were able to pull within a possession midway through the quarter after an interception led to a three-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. The Hilltoppers put the game away on a late field goal. Northwestern 31, Nebraska 28Northwestern outgained Nebraska 528-465 as it used a solid rushing attack, running for 214 yards on 4.6 ypc. The Huskers opened the game by driving 75 yards for a touchdown and eventually built a 14-3 lead before Northwestern came back and took the lead after two long touchdown drives of 75 and 82 yards. After forcing a punt, Nebraska opened the second half scoring with an 88-yard touchdown drive and then recovered a fumble and scored two plays later to build another 11-point lead. The Wildcats used a long kickoff return to set up a 46-yard touchdown drive and took the lead back in the fourth quarter on another short touchdown drive following a Nebraska interception. The final six Huskers possessions resulted in four punts and two interceptions that generated only 84 total yards. UNLV 52, Idaho State 21UNLV scored on its first seven possessions while outgaining Idaho St. 554-241. UNLV led 10-7 after the first quarter and then scored touchdowns on all five second quarter possessions to pull away early. The Bengals offense opened by driving into Rebels territory but were intercepted that eventually led to a UNLV field goal yet were able to put together a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to pull to within three points before the offense was completely shut down. Idaho St. managed only 11 total net yards on its next seven possessions before stringing together a pair of late touchdowns after the game out of reach. UNLV held the Bengals to just 50 yards rushing on 40 attempts (1.3 ypc) while also generating five sacks but did allow Idaho St. to go 4-4 on fourth down attempts.  Utah State 31, UConn 20Utah St. was shutout in the first quarter as in four possessions, it was forced to punt twice and turned the ball over twice inside the Connecticut 30-yard line, once with a fumble and once on downs. The Huskies took advantage with two touchdown drives of 79 yards to take a 14-0 lead but the Aggies ran off 24 unanswered points as the defense took over, allowing just 72 yards on the next seven Connecticut possessions. The Huskies trimmed the deficit to four points early in the fourth quarter but Utah St. tacked on the clinching touchdown with six minutes left. The Aggies eventually outgained Connecticut 542-364 yet the rushing defense was exposed by allowing 245 yards on 39 carries (6.3 ypc) but did allow only 13 completions on a mere 3.6 yards per attempt while picking off two passes. Illinois 38, Wyoming 6Illinois dominated throughout as it outgained Wyoming 477-212 which included a 217-30 edge in passing yards and a 26-10 advantage in first downs. It did take a little while to get the offense going as the Illini scored on just three of their first nine possessions but pulled away with three second half touchdowns and gained 234 total yards in six possessions. Wyoming entered Illinois territory only twice that resulted in a pair of field goals as the Cowboys were a combined 1-13 on third and fourth down and overall, 11 of its 13 drives generated 19 or fewer yards. It was a balanced attack for Illinois on offense as it rushed for 260 yards on 41 carries (6.3 ypc) and going 30-40 for 217 yards through the air while not committing a turnover and holding onto the ball for over 36 minutes. Florida State 47, Duquesne 7The Seminoles were never in danger as they scored on their first six possessions in building a 33-0 lead early in the third quarter. Florida St outgained Duquesne 638-164 with the rushing offense leading the way with 406 yards on 54 carries (7.5 ypc) possessing incredible balance with three players gaining over 100 yards on the ground and five rushing for at least one touchdown albeit against an FCS defense. The Seminoles got into Dukes territory on their first nine possessions with the only hiccup being an interception on their second drive in the third quarter. That turnover resulted in the only Duquesne touchdown that needed just 30 yards on two plays and the Dukes had 30 yards or more on three of its 11 possessions while converting one of 10 third down attempts. Florida Atlantic 43, Charlotte 13Charlotte received the opening kickoff and went 75 yards to jump ahead 7-0 and then it was the Florida Atlantic defense that took over. The 49ers generated only 35 total yards on their next seven possessions with all of those totaling four plays or less. The Owls allowed only two third down conversions, had four sacks and were benefitted by 10 Charlotte penalties. Overall, they outgained the 49ers 482-279 but the offense was inconsistent as they did have five scoring drives of 65 or more yards but were held to three field goals and also had three different three and outs. Charlotte got into Florida Atlantic territory in three of its last four possessions that produced 162 total yards but resulted in just one score as it was denied on fourth down twice inside the Owls 30-yard line. North Carolina 56, Florida A&M 24Both teams opened with punts on their first possession but then North Carolina took over on offense, scoring touchdowns on its next three drives and eight of the next 10 to pull away. Florida A&M did have success of its own on offense as after two punts to open the game, it scored on four of its next six possessions with the last cutting the lead to 35-24 late in the third quarter before the Tar Heels pulled away with three fourth quarter touchdowns. North Carolina outgained the Rattlers 608-335 with the rushing game being the difference as it had 314 yards on 40 carries (7.9 ypc) while allowing just 56 yards on 27 carries (2.1 ypc). The area for concern for the Tar Heels was giving up 279 yards on 28-39 passing with a 7.2 yard per attempt average and that has to get better when competition gets more difficult. Nevada 23, New Mexico State 12New Mexico St. opened the scoring with a safety but the first half offense had too many miscues. The Aggies got inside the Nevada 30-yard line on its first two possessions but missed a field goal and threw an interception and they had four turnovers on seven drives in the half and were unable to score. The second half was much better where they gained 198 yards on their last three possessions but resulted in a touchdown, a field goal and another turnover at the Nevada nine-yard line in the final minute. Nevada was actually outgained 303-257 but benefitted from those five turnovers while not turning the ball over on offense. That offense has work to do as it had only 78 yards passing with just a 3.4 yard per attempt average while the rushing game averaged only 4.0 ypc. North Texas 31, UTEP 13UTEP played North Texas even for a half as it trailed by just one point at halftime before the Mean Green pulled away. The Miners actually won the yardage battle 400-399 but the offense did not convert in clutch spots. They opened the game by getting inside the redzone twice but missed a field goal and turned it over on fourth down at the one yard line. Additionally, it turned it over on fourth down on its final three possessions and on the night, it was inside North Texas territory nine times in 10 drives but came away with just three scores. The Mean Green punted on their first two possessions but were forced to punt only one other time after that and scored on five of their next six possessions not counting a kneel down before halftime while going 5-5 in redzone scoring opportunities.  Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10Hawaii took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead and after Vanderbilt got nothing on its first two possessions, the Commodores scored two touchdowns, one on a fumble return to take the lead. The Warriors cut it to 14-10 and then it was all Vanderbilt. The Commodores got into Hawaii territory on its next nine possessions, scoring six touchdowns while failing on fourth down inside the Warriors 34-yard line three times. Overall, Vanderbilt won the yardage battle 601-358 despite running nine fewer plays as the rushing offense could not be stopped with 404 yards on 44 carries (9.2 ypc). The Warriors aired it out 55 times but averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt as going 5-20 on third and fourth down killed numerous drives in Vanderbilt territory. 

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2022 Wyoming Cowboys Preview

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2022

Wyoming Cowboys2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (2-6 MWC Mountain) - 5-7-1 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 4OverviewSince 1999, Wyoming has had 10 seasons at .500 or better and 13 seasons at below .500 and of the former, five have been in the last six years with a 2-4 COVID shortened season in 2020 being the only exception. The Cowboys have not been to the MWC Conference championship since 2016 when they went 6-2 in the conference, their best record in the MWC in their 23 years of existence since leaving the WAC. The recent run has been impressive and this is the best stretch since those final years in the WAC. Head coach Craig Bohl is entering his ninth season which matches the longest tenured coaching run in program history and he deserves it with four bowl games over the last six seasons. Last season, the Cowboys benefitted from having 21 starters returning and a 4-0 start was attributed to that but this season, only eight starters return with a tougher early schedule. OffenseThe offense started strong, had a lull during a four-game losing streak but came back to life down the stretch when it was needed. The Cowboys still finished just No. 98 in total offense and No. 100 in scoring offense as the passing game struggled, managing 200 or more yards only three times. The quarterback situation is not dire but it is certainly not the best scenario. Andrew Peasley is coming over from Utah St. and while he was appointed the starter before camp started, the gap is decreasing. He completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 830 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in 18 games with the Aggies. The receiving corps is thin as it lost Isaiah Neyor to the transfer portal while also losing leading rusher Xazavian Valladay to transfer. Titus Swen ran for 785 yards and seven touchdowns so the running game will be fine behind an offensive line that is solid but limited with depth. DefenseThe defense loses a lot to the transfer portal as well and it will be an uphill battle with so many new faces. Wyoming finished No. 38 in total defense and No. 37 in scoring defense although those are the worst rankings in the last four years which shows how good the defense has been. Only four starters are back overall and two of those are along the defensive line which is important as the rushing defense was the liability last season and the main guy is nose tackle Cole Godbout who can cause disruption in the backfield. The linebackers lost leading tackler Chad Muma but right behind him was Easton Gibbs with 89 tackles and is a good player to work around as there is some decent depth here that needs to help the back end. Three starters are gone from the secondary that was exceptional last season and the lone holdover is safety Isaac White who had only 33 tackles. 2022 Season OutlookWyoming looks to keep the momentum going from this recent six-year run but it is not going to be easy in a conference with seven teams ahead of it in the odds to win the MWC and the Cowboys have to face six of those with a young team that is ranked No. 112 in returning production. They lost a ton in the transfer portal and did not get a bunch in return but can at least hang their hat on one of the best recruiting classes under Bohl. They open the season at Illinois before returning home with three straight games against Tulsa, Northern Colorado and Air Force. The final nonconference game is at BYU and three of the four remaining conference road games are winnable but no gimmies and they miss San Diego St. The O/U win total is set at 5 and considering they are going to be a favorite only four times as of now, this is an unlikely over with what is currently in place. 

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2022 Wisconsin Badgers Preview

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2022

Wisconsin Badgers2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-3 Big Ten West) - 6-7-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 3OverviewSince a 5-7 season in 2001, Wisconsin has run off 20 straight winning campaigns with half of those resulting in double-digit victories. It has finished in the AP Poll 13 times including five in the top ten over this stretch but has been left out two straight seasons. One of those was the 4-3 COVID shortened season and a bad start to last year knocked them out but they finished strong to carry something into 2022. After a pair of blowout losses to Michigan and Notre Dame while allowing 79 combined points to fall to 1-3, the Badgers defense stepped up and allowed 72 points total during a seven-game winning streak. They come into this season ranked No. 18 despite returning only eight starters to go along with a returning production ranking of No. 85. We should expect Wisconsin to win again but getting back to a double-digit winning season will be a tough ask despite a favorable schedule. OffenseThe offense has slipped over the last two seasons finishing No. 96 and No. 86 in total offense while putting up an average of 25 ppg during both campaigns. In comes a new offensive coordinator as Bobby Engram was hired after spending the last eight years with the Baltimore Ravens as a position coach but he has never called plays at any level. The passing offense was one of the worst in the country as quarterback Graham Mertz completed only 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,958 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The top three receivers are gone with Chimere Dike taking over the top spot after 272 yards last season and there is a lot of youth after him. Freshman All-American Braelon Allen rushed for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns while Chez Mellusi rushed for 815 yards and five scores and they will be running behind an offensive line that is big and experienced. DefenseThe defense carried the load late and overall, the Badgers finished No. 1 in total defense, No. 1 in rushing defense, No. 6 in passing defense and No. 6 in scoring defense. Now comes a test as only three starters are back, one from each level, so forget about coming close to matching the numbers from last season. Linebacker Nick Herbig is back after 64 tackles and a team high nine sacks and the other three spots will be manned by players that had a combined 26 tackles last season so the pass rush that had 39 sacks last season, tied for No. 16 in the country, will take a step back. Safety John Torchio is the lone returnee in the secondary yet he had only 35 tackles last season but did have two interceptions to go along with a pair of veteran corners. The rushing defense will be good again with Isaiah Mullens manning one of the defensive end spots and this is a big unit with decent depth. 2022 Season OutlookHead coach Paul Chryst is 65-23 in seven seasons with the Badgers and this could be his most challenging one yet. A veteran quarterback is a plus, possessing two amazing running backs is better and having the edge in size at the line of scrimmage against most opponents is always important. This is far from a rebuild and Wisconsin has three games to start the season to see where it stands. The Badgers are home against Illinois St., Washington St. and New Mexico St. which all should be won handily and then comes the big one as it travels to Ohio St. for its Big Ten opener. Overall, there are five conference road games that also includes Michigan St. and Iowa. The home schedule is tame enough to sweep and Michigan and Penn St. are off the schedule. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 which seems massive but being favored in nine of their games shows it will be doable is the pieces fall into the right places. 

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2022 Western Michigan Broncos Preview

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2022

Western Michigan Broncos2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (4-4 MAC West) - 6-6-1 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 7OverviewSince a 1-11 record in the first season under head coach P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan has finished .500 or better in eight straight seasons, making it the most consistent team in the MAC in recent years. The Broncos had everything going in its favor heading into last season as they had 19 starters back and one of the better recruiting classes in a wide open conference and things got off to a solid 4-1 start then the wheels began to fall off. Three blowout losses in four games and then a narrow five-point win over Akron as a four-touchdown favorite summed up what could have been. The Broncos closed with a win over rival Northern Illinois and a blowout bowl win over a depleted Nevada team and that could provide false hope heading into this season. Only 11 starters are back to go along with a No. 124 returning production ranking and a schedule that is backloaded with five games against top teams spells trouble Tim Lester. OffenseThe offense was great last season as it scored 30 or more points in seven games but failed to show up in some others as it had to rely on a solid defense a few times. The Broncos were No. 15 in total offense and No. 49 in scoring offense which showed the lack of being clutch when needed. The passing game was good under quarterback Kaleb Eleby as he threw for over 3,000 yards with 23 touchdowns and six interceptions but he is gone and the situation this season is a tough one. A pair of redshirt freshmen battled it out in camp for the starting spot that was eventually won by Jack Salopek who has just five career attempts under his belt. He does not have many options going into the season as three of the top four receivers are gone from last season. The good news is that there is a potent running game with Sean Tyler and La'Darius Jefferson but the offensive line has to replace three starters. DefenseIt was an up and down season for the defense that did not bend a lot but broke on too many occasions. The Broncos finished No. 28 in total defense but No. 89 in scoring defense as they were able to stop opponents on third down but were unable to keep them out of the endzone. Allowing 24 or fewer points five times was a bonus but giving up 40 or more points six times was the downfall and while seven starters are back, two of the best are gone. The strength will be at linebacker with all three starters returning as Corvin Moment, Zaire Barnes, and Ryan Selig combined for 199 tackles and nine sacks and they will need to apply more pressure with sack leader Ali Fayed departed from the defensive line as well as Ralph Holley and his 5.5 sacks. The secondary is in fine shape with two starters back as well as getting safety Bricen Garner back in the mix after missing nine games last season. 2022 Season OutlookLast year was a season of ifs, ands or buts for Western Michigan as after getting outgained in its first two games against Michigan and Illinois St., it won the yardage battle in its final 11 games but had just a 7-4 record to show for it. The returning production on offense is one of the worst in the country and it faces one of the toughest schedules in the conference. The Broncos open at Michigan St. and then start MAC play at Ball St. the following week before their home opener against Pittsburgh. A trip to San Jose St. is followed by three straight home games before the slate cranks up with the last five games against teams expected to compete for a championship with only two of those at home. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 which is lofty considering lack of experience in many key positions and the fact there is no bye week on the schedule. The first losing season for Lester looks inevitable. 

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2022 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Preview

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers2021-22 Season Record 9-5 (7-1 C-USA East) - 10-4-0 ATS - 10-4-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 7OverviewWith the exception of first year head coach David Elson, who went 0-12 in one season, and two years with Mike Sanford where he went 9-16, every other coach has had success at Western Kentucky. From Willie Taggart to Jeff Brohm to current head coach Tyson Helton, all have scored at least two winning records and Helton is coming off his most impressive year because of what did not happen. The Hilltoppers opened the season 1-4 and instead of quitting, they ran off seven straight wins, all by blowouts, and even though they lost to UTSA in the C-USA Championship, they rolled Appalachian St. in the Boca Roton Bowl and that momentum could be needed heading into this season. Western Kentucky has only 11 starters back with a returning production ranking of No. 88 and a second straight poor recruiting class came in so it could be a bit of an uphill battle this season. OffenseThe biggest offensive turnaround in the country took place at Western Kentucky as after averaging 291.7 ypg in 2020, which was No. 121 in the country, it boosted that to 528.4 ypg last season which was second in the nation behind Ohio St. The passing offense was the best in the country behind quarterback Bailey Zappe who threw for an unheard of 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns but he is now a New England Patriot and it was supposed be West Virginia transfer Jarret Doege to take over the offense but he already left the team and it will be Austin Reed to run the show after winning the Division II National Championship at West Florida. The top two targets who put up massive numbers are gone, the running game lost its top rusher and will be a running game by committee and the offensive line has just two starters back. It will not be like last season but time will tell. DefenseThe defense was not very good but it did not have to be and that will have to change this season. The Hilltoppers finished No. 98 in total defense and No. 90 in scoring defense and have seven starters back so the unit should be better if it has to carry the offense early on. Obviously, the passing defense was the weakness because it got thrown on so much and it will be better off for it this season. Two starters are back in the secondary led by safety A.J. Brathwaite, Jr. who had 64 tackles and they will be counting on a pair of transfers to fill the holes. The linebackers will help out as Jaden Hunter led the team with 67 tackles and Will Ignont who contributed 52 tackles are both back and each can create pressure on the quarterback after combining for six sacks. The defensive front is the big question after not getting tested against the run much but there is decent depth. 2022 Season OutlookWhile last season was great, it could have been a lot better as three of those first four losses were by a combined 11 points, winning the yardage battle in two of those, and the other loss was against Michigan St. Western Kentucky is the third favorite to win C-USA, slightly behind UTSA and UAB with a lot of that based on last season but this is a tough team to trust with so many missing parts. They open at home against Austin Peay and then have a tough roadtrip at Hawaii and Indiana but do get a bye in-between then are back home for games against Florida International and Troy. Five of the last eight games are on the road including UTSA, Auburn and Florida Atlantic. They catch UAB and North Texas at home. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 partly because of last year and partly because of a 13-game schedule and it just seems too high especially with seven road games. 

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2022 West Virginia Mountaineers Preview

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022

West Virginia Mountaineers2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (4-5 Big 12) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 5OverviewLife in the Big 12 has not been as rewarding as it was in the Big East for West Virginia. The Mountaineers finished ranked in the AP Poll in six of the final seven years in their former conference including a No. 5 and No. 6 but have only done so twice in the current league with a high being No. 18. Overall, they are 68-56 which is very good considering the competition they face on a yearly basis but have had a winning conference record only four times. Head coach Neal Brown is in his fourth season and he has posted a losing record overall so this is a pivotal season where West Virginia needs to make some noise or his days could be numbered. There is not much coming back from back-to-back bowl seasons with just 12 starters returning and the Mountaineers have a No. 111 returning production ranking. But he brought in his best recruiting class and veteran help is on the way. OffenseWest Virginia has seen the offense dip in the three seasons since the days of Dana Holgorsen and last year it finished No. 76 in total offense and No. 78 in scoring offense. That will not get it done in the Big 12 and the Mountaineers struggled with consistency, scoring 29 or more points five times and scoring 20 or fewer points six times. Quarterback Jarret Doege was accurate, completing 65.8 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards but his 11 interceptions were a problem. Now they get transfer J.T. Daniels from Georgia and USC prior to that and he will fit into a new system led by new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell who is an offensive guru. Two of the top receivers are back that combined for over 1,000 yards and they will easily surpass that. The veteran offensive line has four starters back and that should improve the running game as long as someone steps up. DefenseThe defense has to replace six starters and they received some solid depth from the transfer portal with seven players coming in to solidify the back seven. The Mountaineers were No. 41 in total defense and No. 50 in scoring defense and they allowed fewer than 400 yards 10 times and if they can get production like that again, they will be just fine with the revamped offense. The defensive line will be the strength as it is a veteran group that did a great job at stopping the run and causing disruption. Dante Stills is back on the inside after 37 tackles and seven sacks while Tajik Alston and Jared Bartlett combined for 67 tackles and 8.5 sacks from the end positions. Leading tackler Josh Chandler-Semedo has to be replaced at linebacker while safeties Sean Mahone and Alonzo Addae, who combined for 155 tackles, are gone as well and this is where those transfers have to step up. 2022 Season OutlookDaniels is an upgrade at quarterback and unfortunately, he lost his job at the first two stops because of injuries so if he can stay healthy, the offense should hum along. That they need as they are playing a tough schedule that is backloaded with six games over their last seven against teams that won at least seven games last season. They open on the road with a tough game at rival Pittsburgh and then back home to face Towson and Kansas before two more difficult road tests at Virginia Tech and Texas. The Mountaineers do get Baylor and Oklahoma at home but have to travel to Texas Tech, Iowa St. and Oklahoma St. and they are likely going to be underdogs in all six road contests. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and this looks like a pass either way with such a tough slate and numerous changes on both sides of the ball. Bowl eligibility is likely a must for Brown and it will be tough. 

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2022 Washington St. Cougars Preview

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022

Washington St. Cougars2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (6-3 Pac 12 North) - 8-5-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 6OverviewFormer head coach Mike Price turned Washington St. into a winner in the early 2000s with a pair of No. 10 finishes in the AP Poll and then Bill Doba came in and led the Cougars to a No. 9 ranking in 2003 but then it went downhill quickly. Mike Leach came on board and after starting with three losing seasons, the winning resumed with five straight bowl appearances highlighted by an 11-2 record in 2018 that resulted in a No. 10 final ranking. Nick Rolovich made it 11 games only before being fired after failing to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees. Interim coach Jake Dickert closed the season 3-3 which included a bowl bid and he was hired full time. The situation is not great as after returning 18 starters in 2021, only 10 are back this season to go along with a No. 119 returning production ranking as transfers will be playing a major role for success. OffenseThe Air Raid offense from Leach was absent the last two seasons but that is about to change. The Cougars finished No. 73 in total offense and No. 69 in scoring offense as the passing game was slightly above average but was unable to outscore opponents when needed as three losses came by a combined nine points. Dickert hired Incarnate Word head coach Eric Morris as his offensive coordinator and fireworks should ensue after possessing one of the best offenses at the FCS level. Joining him from Incarnate Word is quarterback Cameron Ward who threw for over 4,600 yards and 47 touchdowns last season with one of his favorite targets being Robert Ferrel who is also transferring over. Only two starters are back on the offensive line but the up tempo attack should lead to fewer sacks and they will have to open holes for a depleted running game that loses it leading rusher. DefenseAfter a slow start to the season, the defense came up big as it allowed 400 or more yards only three times over the last 10 games while holding opponents to 24 points or fewer eight times. Overall, the Cougars were No. 68 in total defense and No. 48 in scoring defense and they have solid production coming back. They were tied for No. 5 in the country with 29 takeaways and that is something they cannot count on again especially with a few of the playmakers having departed. The strength is up front with defensive ends Ron Stone, Jr. and Brennan Jackson combining for 107 tackles and 9.5 sacks last season to go along with a veteran middle. The linebacking corps loses two key starters including its leading tackler and this is where the transfers are going to play a big role. The secondary loses both starting safeties and will be headed by nickel back Armani Marsh coming off a 70-tackle season. 2022 Season OutlookThings are about to get exciting again in Pullman, at least that is the hope, but it should work just fine with Ward playing for his former coach in the same system with very little tweaks. Dickert was the defensive coordinator here for two years so the only thing that changes on that side is new personnel. The schedule sets up pretty well for Washington St. as it has seven home games for a second straight season with four of those coming in the first five games. They open with Idaho and then travel to Wisconsin before three more at home that includes Oregon. Three of the four conference road games are doable with a game at USC being the toughest. Additionally, they get Utah and Washington at home. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and there are six wins on paper with two swing games to go along with the four games against elite opposition so the Cougars could be in position to go bowling again. 

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2022 Washington Huskies Preview

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022

Washington Huskies2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-6 Pac 12 North) - 3-9-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 5OverviewAfter going 0-12 in 2008, which was its fifth straight losing season, Washington cut ties with head coach Tyrone Willingham and brought in Steve Sarkisian who turned the program around, finishing with four consecutive winning seasons before leaving for USC. The Huskies brought in Chris Petersen who made a name for himself at Boise St. and he brought that winning culture to the program where he had six winning seasons, including three with double-digit victories, before he stepped down in 2019. Jimmy Lake lasted 13 games before he was fired for misconduct and now it is Kalen DeBoer running the show after a 9-3 record at Fresno St. last season. The situation in Washington last year was toxic which let to a 4-8 record but DeBoer comes into a good situation with 13 starters back, plus a shiny quarterback transfer, and a returning production ranking of No. 35. OffenseDespite returning 10 starters on offense, Washington regressed by 79 ypg from 2020 and finished No. 114 in total offense and No. 107 in scoring offense. To their credit, there was simply no cohesion with the coaching moves and the offense derailed in the latter half of the season. DeBoer knows offense as he led the Bulldogs to a No. 14 ranking last season and he brought in Indiana transfer Michael Penix, who he coached in 2019, to lead the offense. He had potential but could not stay on the field as he never played more than six games in a season so it will be up to the offensive line with four returning starters to keep him upright. Two of the top three receivers are back and either Jalen McMillan or Rome Odunze has to emerge as the No. 1 guy. The Huskies lost their leading rusher but brought in a solid transfer from Virginia as Wayne Taulapapa enters the backfield. DefenseAs is the trademark of the Washington program, the defense was solid last season keeping a majority of the games close as five of the eight losses were by just one possession. The Huskies finished No. 25 in total defense and No. 39 in scoring defense but they have to replace six starters. The one big negative from last season was that Washington could not stop the run as it finished No. 109 in rushing defense but it is now bigger in the middle of the defensive line that will work inside potential star end Zion Tupola-Fetui who is back healthy after missing 10 games last season with an injury. The linebacking corps will rely on a pair of transfers to fill some big shoes but Carson Bruener returns after finishing second on the team with 70 tackles. The secondary takes the biggest hit as both corners have to be replaced but the safeties are in decent shape with three veterans in the mix. 2022 Season OutlookAfter playing only four games in 2020, expectations were high last season as Washington came into the season ranked but a season opening loss to Montana followed by a blowout loss to Michigan set the tone for the season with the four victories coming against teams that finished a combined 11-37. While expectations are not nearly as high, there is potential for a fantastic season with the right personnel in place and a schedule heavily in their favor. Washington opens the season with four straight home games with three likely wins and Michigan St. which would be a statement win. Three of the last five games are on the road with only UCLA and Oregon being the bad ones and the Huskies miss USC and Utah altogether. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 and they should be able to surpass this number with a favorable home slate of seven games and three winnable road games. 

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2022 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview

Monday, Aug 22, 2022

Wake Forest Demon Deacons2021-22 Season Record 11-3 (7-2 ACC Atlantic) - 7-7-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewIt has been an unprecedented, sustained run for Wake Forest as it has ended the regular season with a .500 or better record for six straight seasons that has resulted in six straight bowl games. Head coach Dave Clawson took over in 2014 after a run of five straight losing seasons and after a pair of 3-9 campaigns in his first two years, he ran off four straight winning seasons. That streak came to an end with a 4-5 COVID shortened 2020 season because of a bowl loss but the Demon Deacons bounced back in a big way by going 11-3 last season and this program is on a roll. They have 14 starters back with a returning production ranking of No. 46 so the success is expected to continue and it has come into the season with a ranking of No. 22 in the AP Poll. A lot of the success will depend on the health of quarterback Sam Hartman and when/if he can return to the lineup. OffenseThe offense was outstanding behind Hartman as Wake Forest finished No. 12 in total offense and No. 5 in scoring offense as he passed for 39 touchdowns and 4,228 yards last season, both school records. On August 10th, the team announced that Hartman will be out for a substantial amount of time with a non-football issue and no other further details have emerged except that it could be mental health related. This is a massive blow to the offense but his wellbeing is of the utmost importance at this point. Taking over will be redshirt freshman Mitch Griffis who has seen limited action but has had a lot of time to work with the first string offense. The receiving corps is loaded despite losing second leading receiver Jaquarii Roberson as the next three guys that combined for 22 touchdowns are all back. The offensive line is in great shape while the returning backs can get it done. DefenseThe absence of Hartman will put some added pressure on the defense that was not good last season, evidenced by losing to North Carolina despite the offense putting up 55 points. The Demon Deacons finished No. 99 in total defense and No. 94 in scoring defense and were horrible against the run. Some key pieces from last season are gone and that includes leading tackler Luke Masterson, who had 85 stops from the linebacker position. Ryan Smenda, Jr. who had 83 tackles is back though to lead the unit and help shore up the running defense. The defensive line is also to blame and work needs to be done here as well. They have a great end in Rondell Bothroyd who had 63 tackles and seven sacks and this group has to get to the quarterback to help the secondary that lost a lot. Safety Nick Anderson is the best holdover after 44 tackles and one interception last season. 2022 Season OutlookThe expectations that were sky high coming into camp have quelled some with the Hartman news and while the offense likely is not going to be putting up massive numbers again, they should be just fine with so much talent surrounding Griffis. The good news is that the early portion of the schedule is easy which will give the offense a chance to come together. Wake Forest opens at home against VMI and then travels to Vanderbilt before returning home to face Liberty. Then the ACC kicks in by hosting Clemson and then heading to Florida St. the following week. Following a pair of winnable home games, they are on the road against at Louisville and NC State with a home game against North Carolina the final roadblock down the line. The O/U win total was 8.5 but has fallen to 6.5 and they should still be capable of going over that but if the offense stalls, that over could be in trouble. 

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2022 Virginia Tech Hokies Preview

Monday, Aug 22, 2022

Virginia Tech Hokies2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (4-4 ACC Coastal) - 5-8-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 7OverviewVirginia Tech entered the ACC in 2004 and promptly put together eight consecutive double-digit winning seasons and while things slipped some over the next few years, it was still another run of six consecutive winning seasons, four in the last four years with head coach Frank Beamer and two under his replacement Justin Fuente. It started to level out after that as the Hokies went 24-23 starting in 2018 before Fuente was let go late last season and Virginia Tech has been ranked in the final AP Poll only twice in the last ten seasons, No. 16 in 2016 and No. 24 in 2017. Brent Pry has been brought in to turn this whole thing around and he brings in a great track record after serving as the defensive coordinator at Penn St. since 2016. The strength will be that defense with seven starters returning and a returning production ranking of No. 24 but the offense needs some work. OffenseThe offense slipped last season as the Hokies finished No. 89 overall and No. 92 in scoring as they managed to eclipse 400 total yards only four times while being held to fewer than 300 yards four times as well. The quarterback situation was inconsistent as Braxton Burmeister played decent but was limited due to poor offensive coaching and he entered the transfer portal prior to their bowl game and he is off to San Diego St. Pry brought in Grant Wells from Marshall and has been named the starter after throwing for 3,535 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. There is not much around him to work with as the Hokies top two receivers are gone, leaving Kaleb Smith and Nick Gallo as the top two returnees with limited action. Three starters that made it to the NFL have to be replaced along the offensive line and leading rusher Raheem Blackshear is also gone so it is a work in progress. DefenseThe defense played well for the majority of the first 10 games last season as it allowed 17 points or fewer six times but it unraveled late as the Hokies allowed 38.7 ppg over the final three games which slightly skewed the overall numbers. They finished No. 72 in total defense and No. 42 in scoring defense and this unit will be called upon to carry the team until the offense comes around. Starting linebackers Dax Hollifield and Alan Tisdale are back after combining for 176 tackles and seven sacks and will be joined by Keonta Jenkins to form a great middle level. The defensive line will start four players all with experience but nothing spectacular as the group combined for 5.5 sacks last season and overall was poor against the run. The secondary will be solid led by safeties Nasir Peoples and Chamarri Conner who combined for 173 tackles but help is needed on the corners. 2022 Season OutlookReplacing a legend like Beamer was not going to be easy and while Fuente started off great with a 19-8 record, he maintained no consistency with his staff and they were countlessly going in different directions. Pry should bring that consistency to the program after his years at Penn St. and while the situation is not great, it is not a complete rebuild. The schedule sets up well early on for the offense to gel as Virginia Tech opens at Old Dominion before three straight home games against Boston College, Wofford and West Virginia. The remainder of the ACC schedule is not great especially with road games at North Carolina, Pittsburgh and NC State but there is no Clemson, Wake Forest, Florida St. or Louisville to deal with. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and foreseeing a 4-0 start and then a tough stretch before Duke and Georgia Tech, the final two games against Liberty and Virginia will be big. 

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2022 Virginia Cavaliers Preview

Sunday, Aug 21, 2022

Virginia Cavaliers2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (4-4 ACC Coastal) - 7-5-0 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 6OverviewVirginia has been stuck in neutral forever and forever goes back to 1890. The Cavaliers have never had a final ranking higher than No. 13 and have not closed a season ranked at all since 2004 while appearing in only five bowl games since then. Former head coaches George Welsh and Al Groh had their moments but could never push them to elite status in the ACC and since then, Mike London and Bronco Mendenhall produced only three winning campaigns between the two in 12 seasons. Mendenhall stepped down after last season and Tony Elliott takes over after spending the last seven seasons as the Clemson offensive coordinator so there is buzz in Charlottesville even after the Tigers offensive woes last season. There is a lot to be done and despite only 10 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 123, Virginia is projected for a winning record facing a pretty favorable schedule. OffenseVirginia wasted one of the better offensive seasons it has had in a very long time as it finished No. 3 in total offense and No. 22 in scoring offense but lost three games where they scored at least 38 points as the defense could not keep up. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong was tremendous as he threw for 4,449 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing over 65 percent of his passes but he will be in a precarious situation this season. He gets his three top receivers back and will have the second leading receiver from 2020 back after missing last season. The problem is that the offensive line has to replace every starter as four of those transferred out and after allowing 40 sacks last season, this is a problem. The running game did not do much last season for good reason but the Cavaliers could use some more balance as the leading returning rusher is Armstrong. DefenseThe defense posted two shutouts last season and it was still horrible as Virginia finished No. 121 in total defense and No. 103 in scoring defense and even an average unit can do wonders for the team as a whole. Only six staters are back and experience is lacking all around as the Cavaliers come into the season with a defensive returning production ranking of No. 125. They do possess a solid linebacking corps with Nick Jackson returning after leading the team with 117 tackles and picking up 2.5 sacks while Hunter Stewart also returns in the 4-2-5 scheme. The secondary brings back some experience as well led by safeties Coen King and Antonio Clary who combined for 82 tackles but the unit as a whole has to take the ball away after having only eight interceptions. The defensive line is the weak link as they need to create more pressure and not allow 5.8 ypc like last season. 2022 Season OutlookElliott brings in a winning attitude from Clemson but it will take more than just that to form a team that can compete in a very competitive conference. And it largely comes down to the defense that needs to make plays. There are six teams ahead of Virginia to win the conference and the Cavaliers do not have to play four of those so the schedule is in their favor. Virginia opens with Richmond and then goes to Illinois before coming back home against Old Dominion prior to ACC play. It starts with two road games at Syracuse and Duke, both of which are winnable and then five of the next six games are at home with a bye week thrown in there as well before closing at rival Virginia Tech. the O/U win total is set at 7 and if the offense continues to hum along, a 5-0 start is not out of the question even with three of those one the road. The back-half sets up well even though against tough opposition. 

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2022 Vanderbilt Commodores Preview

Sunday, Aug 21, 2022

Vanderbilt Commodores2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (0-8 SEC East) - 6-6-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewVanderbilt has gone 5-28 the last three years and it is in the midst of its worst three-season run since 2002-2004 when it went 6-29. The Commodores had a decent stretch prior to this, going to bowl games six times in the previous 11 seasons which is saying a lot considering they went to just three bowl games in the first 104 years of existence. Former head coach James Franklin was responsible for two of the three seasons where it finished ranked in the AP Poll and he parlayed that into a successful gig at Penn St. while Derek Mason could not get anything going in just under seven seasons, now current head coach Clark Lea has to regroup his team after a 2-10 season in his debut. There is good experience coming back with seven starters returning on each side of the ball and the incoming recruiting class is the third best in program history so the future could be somewhat bright. OffenseThe offense could get nothing going last season as the Commodores managed 30 points only once while scoring 17 points or fewer in half of their games. They finished No. 119 in total offense and No. 128 in scoring offense with all facets of the unit not doing anything right. Quarterback play was a mess as Mike Wright and Ken Seals split time with neither being effective and it is Wright that has been named the starter after throwing for 1,042 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions while completing only 53 percent of his passes. The good news is that the offensive line is pretty good and allowed 28 sacks last season with three starters coming back and adding key transfer help. The receivers lost two of the top three guys with Will Sheppard coming back after 577 yards and four touchdowns. Leading rusher Rocko Griffin also returns but needs to improve his 3.6 ypc average. DefenseThe defense was slightly better in the overall rankings but it was still awful in most areas. The Commodores were No. 118 in total defense and No. 120 in scoring defense and they did show some good things that can be carried over into this season. The linebackers are solid with Anfernee Orji and Ethan Barr leading way as the top two tacklers last season with 177 combined stops and they add Clemson transfer Kane Patterson so there is a lot of potential here. The defensive front was part of the problem with stopping the run, allowing 5.6 ypc yet they should be able to shore that up with all three starters returning but they only played a combined 25 games. Vanderbilt finished No. 114 in passing efficiency defense as it allowed the fifth most passing touchdowns and has two starters back led by safety Maxwell Worship who was third in tackles with 52 and a pair of interceptions. 2022 Season OutlookAn opening loss to East Tennessee St. of the FCS set the tone for the season last year even though Vanderbilt did get to 2-3 before bottoming out with seven straight losses. While there are some positives heading into the season, getting out of the basement will be next to impossible by playing a schedule where every team won at least six games last season. The Commodores open vacation style in Hawaii before facing Elon and Wake Forest at home and then go to Northern Illinois to close out the nonconference schedule where a 2-2 record would be a positive. Then it gets nasty in the SEC with the start being at Alabama, at home against Mississippi and at Georgia. It gets better after that but with all five against bowl teams from last season. The O/U win total is set at 2.5 and it could sneak out going above that with an upset as they will be underdogs in every conference game.  

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2022 UTSA Roadrunners Preview

Sunday, Aug 21, 2022

UTSA Roadrunners2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (7-1 C-USA West) - 9-5-0 ATS - 8-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewA decade of UTSA football is in the books and it ended in spectacular fashion as the Roadrunners easily smashed the program win total with a 12-2 record and won their first C-USA Championship. Previous head coaches Larry Coker had two winning seasons while Frank Wilson had one and neither could keep the consistent winning going in their four years apiece. Current head coach Jeff Traylor enters his third season after posting winning records in each of his first two for a combined 19-7 mark and his days at UTSA may be numbered, in a good way. The Roadrunners were consistent on both sides of the ball last season as they jumped out to an 11-0 start before getting dominated at North Texas in the regular season finale. Only 13 starters return but they have a returning production ranking of No. 22 to go along with one of the best recruiting classes in the history of the program. OffenseUTSA has increased its offensive production each of the last four seasons and by a lot. It improved the yardage by nearly 200 ypg from 2018, nearly 100 ypg from 2019 and 24 ypg from 2020 as it finished No. 26 in total offense and No. 12 in scoring offense, averaging 445.0 ypg and 37.8 ppg respectively. The majority of the offense is back with eight returning starters led by quarterback Frank Harris who threw for 3,177 yards with 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions while completing nearly two-thirds of his throws. This will be his third season as the starter in this system under Traylor and it could be his best one yet. He gets his top three receivers back as well as his tight end so the passing game is set. They lost running back Sincere McCormick and his 1,479 yards to the NFL but there is depth that will be running behind a great offensive line that has four starters back. DefenseWhile the offense has dramatically improved over the last four years, the defense has as well just not quite to the same extent. Overall, UTSA was No. 48 in total defense and No. 44 in scoring defense but it was inconsistent, holding four opponents to fewer than 200 total yards but allowing an average of 496.8 ypg over the last four games as they wore down at the end. Unlike the offense, many holes need to be filled on this side but the retuning group is talented. The linebacking corps will be the strength as Jamal Ligon, Trevor Harmanson and Dadrian Taylor combined for 166 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three interceptions and will again be an integral part in stopping the run. The defensive line has two veterans back including Trumaine Bell II who was second on the team with five sacks. The secondary is solid with safety Rashad Wisdom heading the group after leading the team with 87 tackles. 2022 Season OutlookThis is the final season for UTSA in C-USA as next season it heads to the AAC to help the conference ease the pain of losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12 so getting out of here with two consecutive C-USA Championships is the goal and they have the personnel to do so. The Roadrunners also have a favorable conference schedule and they come in as the slight favorite to win the conference. They open the season with a big home game against Houston before a pair of tough road games at Army and at Texas before concluding the nonconference slate at home against Texas Southern. As for the C-USA slate, they get North Texas and Western Kentucky at home and go on the road at UAB while missing Florida Atlantic. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and that seems a tad high with those three tough road games not to mention Houston and Western Kentucky at home. A likely pass. 

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2022 UTEP Miners Preview

Sunday, Aug 21, 2022

UTEP Miners2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 C-USA West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewUTEP entered C-USA in 2005 in the second year of former head coach Mike Price and put together an 8-4 record and a second consecutive bowl game but it has been a struggle since then. The Miners followed that up with eight straight losing seasons, seven under Price and one with his replacement Sean Kugler before a winning season in 2014 but that did not last as UTEP strung together six more losing seasons before going 7-6 last season in the fourth year with Dana Dimel on the sidelines. It did result in another bowl loss as the Miners have gone 0-7 in the postseason since their last bowl win in 1967 and there is confidence to break that skid in 2022. 15 starters are back along with a solid No. 51 ranking in returning production and after a 5-27 start at UTEP, Dimel needs another winning season to likely keep his job as the 1-5 finish tarnished what could have been a really solid year. OffenseThe offense has increased its production each of the last four seasons but it has been nothing short of below average as the Miners finished No. 72 in total offense and No. 89 in scoring offense and there is work to be done. UTEP wanted to open up the offense more and it did just that but with it came a lack of consistency which needs to improve this season. Quarterback Gavin Hardison put up some good numbers as he threw for 3,223 yards with 18 touchdowns but he also tossed 13 interceptions while completing just over 55 percent of his passes. This had a lot to do with the Miners converting just 31.7 percent of their third down opportunities which was No. 124 in the country. The receiving corps will have a makeover with the two top players gone which will put some pressure on the running game behind leading rusher Ronald Awatt and an offensive line that is one of the best in the conference. DefenseThe defense kept UTEP in games early in the season which led to its 6-1 start as it allowed 19.3 ppg during this stretch and then completely imploded down the stretch. After a five-game run of allowing 288 or fewer yards, UTEP gave up an average of 435.2 ypg in its last five games and finished No. 29 in total defense and No. 53 in scoring defense. The Miners are in good position to have another strong defense but cannot fade down the stretch with eight starters back including both linebackers as Breon Hayward and Tyrice Knight were the two leading tacklers that combined for 210 stops and will again be the backbone of this unit. The entire defensive line returns as well and has to do a better job of getting to the quarterback after registering only 25 sacks last season, No. 82 in the country. This will additionally help out the secondary that has to replace three of five starters. 2022 Season OutlookUTEP will be out to put together consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 17 years and will have to do so by drowning out the finish from last year. This is a veteran team that knows it can win and is staring at a favorable schedule late in the season which can help avoid another collapse. The Miners start the season with its C-USA opener at home against North Texas and a win could go a long way. They head to Oklahoma after that before a pair of winnable games against New Mexico St. and New Mexico before closing out nonconference action against Boise St. The next six games are all against teams projected to win fewer than six games and that is where it has to take advantage before closing the season at UTSA. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and the Miners will be favored in at least five games with road games against Charlotte and Louisiana Tech going either way. 

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2022 Utah St. Aggies Preview

Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

Utah St. Aggies2021-22 Season Record 11-3 (6-2 MWC Mountain) - 10-4-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 5OverviewIt took nine years, but Utah St. finally won its first ever MWC Championship last season which was part of a spectacular 11-3 season, matching the most wins in program history, tying the 2012 and 2018 teams. The Aggies were a below average program for years but under head coach Gary Anderson, they went 18-8 in their final two years in the WAC in 2011-2012 and he made way for the move to the MWC where Matt Wells took over and sustained the success with a winning conference record in five of his six seasons before leaving for Texas Tech. A 1-5 COVID shortened season was the end of Anderson in his second go around and Blake Anderson was hired from Arkansas St. and will be in his second year. Last season was a weird one in that all three losses came at home by at least two touchdowns but winning the final three games overall is something to build on. OffenseYou have to take a six-game season with a grain of salt as it was nothing like a normal year but improving by 173 yards on offense last season from 2020 was a big deal. The Aggies finished No. 18 in total offense and No. 31 in scoring offense and hope to keep that going with some good parts in place to keep the pace up. The offense was spearheaded by Logan Bonner who came over with Anderson from Arkansas St. and he did not miss a beat in the familiar system as he threw for 3,628 yards with 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and replicating those numbers may be tough. His top three receivers have departed but in this system, a new three can step up out of nowhere just like they did. The running game gets back leading rusher Calvin Tyler, Jr. who ran for 884 yards and seven touchdowns and he will be behind a very experienced offensive line with four starters back. DefenseThe turnaround of the defense was not as massive but it still improved a good deal as the Aggies were No. 78 in total defense, an improvement from a No. 121 ranking the previous season, and No. 58 in scoring defense. They do have to replace a lot more on this side of the ball and they will be counting on a lot of transfers to learn quickly. The strength will be in the secondary but that is by default as that is where the leading returning tackler Hunter Reynolds resides after making 84 stops last season at safety to go along with the other returning starter, corner Michael Anyanwu. The defensive line will be okay as well with end Byron Vaughns and tackle Hale Motu'apuaka combining for 70 tackles and 7.5 sacks. At linebacker, A.J. Vongphachanh played in all 14 games and recorded 45 tackles and two sacks and will be helped by Washington transfer M.J. Tafisi. 2022 Season OutlookAnderson won 62 games in seven years at Arkansas St. so calling his first season at Utah St. a fluke would be unfair. He did come into a good situation with 19 returning starters but they had to learn new systems so it was a hell of a job of what the Aggies accomplished, especially after playing only six games the previous season. There is talent at all levels so there are no significant holes yet it will take some time and that is fine with an easy opening part of the schedule. Yes, they are at Alabama in Game Two but that is a loss no matter who is on the field and the other three games are at home against Connecticut, Weber St. and UNLV. The rest of the slate is fine with the exception being road games at BYU in September and Boise St. to close the season. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 and it is that high based on last season but it looks very attainable with nine games they will be favored in. 

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2022 Utah Utes Preview

Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

Utah Utes2021-22 Season Record 10-4 (8-1 Pac 12 South) - 7-7-0 ATS - 9-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewUtah was always an average team in the WAC and the early stages in the MWC as it would put together some nice winning seasons and make it to a lower-tiered bowl game with nothing more than a final ranking of No. 10 in 1994 to show for it. Then the program hired Urban Meyer in 2003 and everything changed. He went 22-2 in two seasons including a 12-0 record and a Fiesta Bowl win in 2004 which resulted in a final ranking of No. 4. He took that and ran with it and ever since, current head coach Kyle Whittingham has not let the program slip at all as he has produced winning records in 15 of his 17 seasons and he could have one of his best teams yet. They will build off of their Rose Bowl trip last season and come into 2022 with a preseason ranking of No. 7, the highest in program history. 14 starters return with an above average returning production ranking which could turn into something special. OffenseUtah always seem to be really big on both sides of the line of scrimmage and the offensive line paved the way last season as the Utes finished No. 15 in rushing offense, averaging 216.3 ypg while the pass protection was outstanding as they allowed only 13 sacks which was No. 4 in the country. Three starters are back and the two positions that need to be filled are not a problem with the size and depth. Quarterback Cameron Rising took control of the offense and passed for 2,493 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He did not have to do a lot with the great running game but he is capable. His favorite target tight end Brant Kuithe is back after 611 yards receiving and six touchdowns last season and the wide receiver options are plentiful. Running back Tavion Thomas returns after a team high 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns so this offense is loaded all over. DefenseThe Utes seem to always have a hard-nosed defense and that was the case last season as they were No. 13 overall and No. 24 in scoring and will be just as potent this season. They were great against the run and just as good against the pass thanks to a ton of pressure unloaded on the opposing quarterbacks as they finished with 42 sacks which was tied for tenth most in the country. The defense took a hit with the two top tacklers gone and both from the linebacker position and it equates to 200 tackles, seven sacks and four interceptions having to be replaced. Mohamoud Diabate comes in from Florida to try and shoulder some of that load. The defensive line lost sack leader Mika Tafua but the tackle positions are set and Van Fillinger will star at one of the end spots. The secondary has to replace two starters but safety Cole Bishop and corner Clark Phillips are All Pac 12 players. 2022 Season OutlookThere has never been this much buzz coming into a season in Salt Lake City. They expected a top ten preseason ranking and got it and now they have to run with it and not let all of the expectations get in their way mentally. Go play Utah football and they will be fine. It will not be easy as the Utes have to navigate through a pretty serious schedule. They open the season at Florida where they are a slight favorite and that game could define the entire season. They welcome Southern Utah before the final nonconference game at home against Fresno St. Five of the nine Pac 12 games are on the road with two of those including UCLA and Oregon and the home portion is manageable with the big one being USC to start the second half. The O/U win total is set at 9 which seems right where it should be with Florida, Oregon and USC being the swing games. It will be fun. 

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2022 USC Trojans Preview

Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

USC Trojans2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-6 Pac 12 South) - 4-8-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 3OverviewLosing seasons have been few and far between for USC as there have been only two since 2001 but those two have come in the last four years and this is the worst run for the Trojans since the early 60s when they had two straight losing campaigns. Long gone are the days of John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll and while there have been a couple good seasons over the last 12 years, USC has not been able to get back to its consistent dominance. They scored the biggest coaching hire of the offseason as Lincoln Riley comes over from Oklahoma where he was 55-10 in his five seasons there and he has already made an impact. The recruiting class was not great but it should not matter as the Trojans brought in the top transfer class in the nation filled with playmakers that will make a difference right away. Expectations are sky high as the Trojans come in ranked No. 14 which actually seems low. OffenseThe No. 1 ranked offense in the Pac 12 last season is only going to be better. Overall, the Trojans were No. 27 in total offense and No. 66 in scoring offense and has the potential to be one of the best units in the country if the chemistry is there from its new toys. Riley certainly knows his offense and is coming into a great situation. He brought with him quarterback Caleb Williams who threw for 1,912 yards with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions to go along with great running ability in not even close to a full season. He has one of the best receivers at his disposal as Jordan Addison transferred from Pittsburgh after winning the Biletnikoff Award. Two other big transfers will provide a ton of depth as well. Running back Travis Dye rushed for 1,271 yards and 16 touchdowns at Oregon last season. This will all work behind a line that should be vastly improved as well. DefenseThis is where things could get dicey but this is not a huge concern with an offense that will have the ability to outscore anyone. USC was bad last season on defense as it finished No. 90 overall and No. 102 in points allowed after giving up 31 or more points eight times. It can be looked at it from both ways as it is either good news or bad news that only three starters are back and it is probably somewhere in-between. The defensive line is going to be a lot better with Tuli Tuipulotu and Nick Figueroa coming back and both are future NFL players and should be all over the opposing backfield. Two transfers will help out the linebacker situation that is headed by Ralen Goforth, the second leading tackler from last season. The secondary will have the biggest makeover with new corners taking over but the Trojans are set at safety with Xavion Alford and Calen Bullock returning. 2022 Season OutlookWhile the Trojans come into the season at No. 14 in the country, they will be in the top ten in no time with a very favorable early schedule that will get the chemistry in line and the confidence for a big second half. If this defense comes around and is just even a little above average, this could be one scary team and they are a National Championship sleeper team for a reason and they have already been bet up to the fifth lowest odds to win it all. USC should open the season 6-0 with the only two possible stumblers being a home game against Fresno St. and at Oregon St. Then comes the big one as they travel to Utah before three more likely wins and it closes the season at UCLA and at home against Notre Dame. The O/U win total is set at 9.5 which is very lofty but for a very good reason. There are nine games on paper that the Trojans win so it will take a victory in one of those three big games to go over.  

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2022 UNLV Runnin' Rebels Preview

Saturday, Aug 20, 2022

UNLV Runnin' Rebels2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (2-6 MWC West) - 8-4-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 8OverviewIt has been a long run of consistent losing for UNLV as there have been just two winning seasons since 2000, the last one coming in 2013. In 45 seasons of playing Division I football, the Rebels have never been ranked in the preseason or during the season which is one of the most undesirable runs in all of college football. While a ranking this season is not going to happen, UNLV should be a much improved team and it is showing that in the projected win total. Current head coach Marcus Arroyo is entering his third season with the Rebels after a 2-16 start but he has had very little experience to work with and that changes this season as they come in with the No. 16 returning production ranking while bringing back eight starters on each side of the ball. Six of their 10 losses last season were by one possession so we should see a turnaround of that, at least to a small degree. OffenseThe offense could not find any consistency last season as it scored 20 or fewer points seven times and overall, it ended up No. 112 in scoring and No. 120 in total offense yet there is upside heading into 2022. It all starts at quarterback and the Rebels could have a good one in place as Harrison Bailey comes over from Tennessee and he is an upgrade even with his limited action with the Volunteers where he completed 68 percent of his passes in seven games. His success, as well as the success of the offense as a whole will come down to the offensive line that was not good in any regard last season. They finished No. 116 in rushing offense with 109.8 ypg on 3.3 ypc while allowing 40 sacks which was tied for No. 119 and four starters return to block for a new group of backs. The receiving corps lost its top pass catcher but there are plenty of options with a lot of depth. DefenseThe defense was weak on all three levels last season but there is good experience coming back as a ton of underclassmen got playing time and the unit is ranked No. 10 in the country in returning production. In the two victories, the defense allowed 30 points combined but allowed 24 or more points in every other game and that needs to improve in a hurry. It was the best defense in four years but it just shows how bad it was previous to 2021 as the Rebels ended up No. 89 in total defense and No. 108 in scoring defense. While the offense gave up too many sacks, the defense could not generate any as they had only 22 on the season and a new look defensive line hopes to generate more of a push. The linebacking trio of Brennon Scott, Kyle Beaudry and Austin Ajiake will help out as well and is the strength of the defense. The secondary was lit up but three of the four starters are back. 2022 Season OutlookUNLV football has never been relevant and that will not change this season but this is one of the better rosters they have had and the addition of Bailey at quarterback could be the missing part they have lacked for years. Arroyo was a great offensive coordinator at Oregon for three years before coming here and if they can find that missing consistency, this could be a fun team to watch as the season goes along. They have the ability to get off to a quick start with five winnable games in their first six even with two of those being on the road. The conference slate is not horrible as they do have to travel to Utah St. and San Diego St. but get Air Force and Fresno St. at home. A trip to Notre Dame is part of a late four-game stretch against teams that had at least 10 wins last season. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and it attainable early if it takes care of business where it needs to. 

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2022 UL-Monroe Warhawks Preview

Friday, Aug 19, 2022

UL-Monroe Warhawks2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (2-6 SBC West) - 5-6-1 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewUL-Monroe football has been around for nearly a half-century and has one bowl game in its pocket, the 2012 Independence Bowl which resulted in a 31-point loss. Prior to current head coach Terry Bowden, the previous two coaches came into bad situations, slightly turned things around halfway through their tenure only to see it bottom out at the end with Todd Berry going 2-11 and Matt Viator going 0-10 in their final seasons. Bowden certainly came into a bad situation and it looked as though things were moving forward right away as the Warhawks opened last season 4-3 but a tough backend of the schedule that had four road games over the final five contests resulted in a 0-5 end to the season. The encouraging part was that three of those losses were by just one possession and they lost to LSU by only 13 points so there are positives heading into this season. OffenseThe Warhawks had the second worst offense in the Sun Belt Conference last season and its 321.7 ypg was ranked No. 115 in the country while its 20.9 ppg was good for just No. 110 in the nation so there is a lot of work to be done. Eight starters are back though with all of the main playmakers in place but if there is going to be a chance for any significant improvement, it will come down to the offensive line that has to replace the three missing starters. Pass protection was nonexistent as they allowed 39 sacks and the running game produced only 3.2 ypc so the pressure is on to make this a workable unit. Quarterback Chandler Rogers is back as the starter after throwing for 1,311 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions in split time and he gets almost every receiver back. Running backs Andrew Henry and Malik Jackson combined for 933 yards and need more space to run. DefenseWhile the offense could not carry the load, the defense was even more challenged as it allowed at least 521 yards five times and finished No. 112 in the country, allowing 442.8 ypg while giving up 33.5 ppg, tied for No. 110. The stop unit has less to work with as only six starters are back with a returning production ranking of No. 126. They registered only 23 sacks which did not help the passing defense that finished No. 117 in passing efficiency as the Warhawks allowed the third most passing touchdowns in the country with 30. Only one starter is back in the secondary and based on last season, this may not be a bad thing. On the defensive line, both tackles return to get a bigger push and it will be up to ends Seth Mason and Anthony Campbell to follow suit. Their best player is linebacker Zack Woodard who was the second leading tackler a season ago with 89 stops. 2022 Season OutlookUL-Monroe outgained only one opponent last season and you are not going to win many games by doing that. The Warhawks should improve in that regard and it will likely come down to the defense to stay competitive. Bowden is safe no matter what happens and if they can get fortunate and have the close losses from last year turn into close wins this year, it could be a successful season. The problem is that the schedule is brutal. They open at Texas and then get a break with Nicholls before going to Alabama and then coming home to open SBC action against defending champion Louisiana. They do have a couple winnable road games at Arkansas St. and South Alabama but neither is a given. There are just five home games in total. The O/U win total is set at 2.5 so beating Nicholls and Texas St. at home means there has to be an upset as they will be dogs in every other game. 

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2022 UCLA Bruins Preview

Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

UCLA Bruins2021-22 Season Record 8-4 (6-3 Pac 12 South) - 8-4-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 2OverviewUCLA is considered one of the storied programs in college football which is a very questionable label. The last time the Bruins finished in the final AP Top Ten was 1998 which was toward the end of their last real consistent run of winning. Since 1999, they have been ranked at the end of the season only three times, none since 2014, despite being ranked at some point in the season in 14 times in those 23 years. UCLA snapped a five-season losing streak last year with an 8-4 record with head coach Chip Kelly responsible for three of those losing campaigns and while things look to be on the upturn, there are a lot of questions going into this season. They had 20 starters return in 2021 so expectations were high and while an eight-win season was good, it should have been better. This season, only eight starters are back and with no Pac 12 divisions, rising to the top will be tough. OffenseThe Bruins have gotten the offense rolling the last couple seasons and last year, they finished No. 31 overall, averaging 441.2 ypg and No. 12 in scoring offense with 36.5 ppg. There are pieces in place to keep the unit moving but there are also holes that will have to be filled. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the offense and put up great numbers, throwing for 2,409 yards with 21 touchdowns with only six interceptions and he can use his legs for production as well. His receiving corps will be relatively new as leading receiver Kyle Philips is gone and the lone holdover with any significant experience is former running back Kazmeir Allen who will working out of the slot with the other two spots being taken over by transfers. The offensive line will be ok with three starters back and the running game lost a big part in Brittain Brown but Zach Charbonnet is back after rushing for 1,137 yards. DefenseThis is where things could get real sticky as the Bruins have to replace nine starters from a defense that finished No. 70 overall, allowing 384.4 ypg while giving up 26.8 ppg, which was No. 74 in the nation. UCLA was not clutch on this side of the ball as it allowed opponents to convert 43.6 percent of its third down opportunities, tied for No. 110 in the country and the new look defense is going to take some time to come together. The defensive line will feature three transfers to fill some big shoes that have departed and they will work around Bo Calvert who led the team in sacks with four and is moving from linebacker to end to get more pressure. The linebacking corps will be even more thin now and they will need Hawaii transfer Darius Muasau to produce right away. The secondary got blown up as well with senior safety Stephan Blaylock having the most experience. 2022 Season OutlookThe Bruins have to tackle the entire conference and not just the South Division with the current realignment taking place this season. If the transfer portal is going to affect one team the most in the entire country, it is probably UCLA as it is going to rely on numerous transplants. Kelly knows his offense and it has finally come around behind Thompson-Robinson who is a special talent but he still needs help around him. UCLA has eight home games which is a huge benefit and a 4-0 start is a likely given but then a tough home test against Washington cannot be overlooked. Then it is Utah and Oregon in back-to-back games albeit with a bye in-between, and the latter half of the Pac 12 schedule includes three games against three improved teams. The O/U Win total is set at 8.5 and the last time UCLA won this many games was in 2014 with a lot more talent than what they have this season. 

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2022 UCF Knights Preview

Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

UCF Knights2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (5-3 American) - 5-8-0 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewUCF has had an abundance of success over the years since entering the FBS ranks in 1996 and the program really took off when legendary head coach George O’Leary came onto the scene in 2004. He led the Knights to seven winning records in his 12 seasons which ironically opened with a 0-11 record in his first year and closed with a 0-12 record in his final year. Scott Frost took over for two years and put together that magical 13-0 season in 2017 amid controversy where UCF did not get a chance to play for a National Championship and since then, Josh Heupel and current head coach Gus Malzahn have continued the success. Malzahn went 9-4 in his first season last year, all four losses on the road, as the Knights had 17 starters back which is the same amount they have heading into 2022 and they have a schedule that sets up very well for what could be another one of those magical seasons. OffenseThe success of the past was behind a potent offense that was among the best in the country but that changed last season. The Knights averaged 400.2 ypg which was down close to 169 ypg from 2020 while the scoring was down by a double-digit average. Overall, UCF finished No. 69 in total offense and No. 38 in scoring offense, although the latter was buoyed by defensive points along the way. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel only played three games last season which definitely put a kink into the offense but Mikey Keene took over and performed well under the circumstances as he threw for 1,730 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions and last year was a springboard. His leading receiver is back but depth is an issue, the running game is set with Johnny Richardson and Isaiah Bowser forming a great 1-2 punch and the offensive line will be stout once again.DefenseThe lack of a consistent offense would normally have been a major issue but the defense stepped up and carried the team. The stop unit improved by 124 ypg and eight ppg and finished No. 54 overall and No. 55 in scoring, certainly nothing special but it was enough for a successful season. Eight starters are back and there should be even greater improvements. Two of the three top tacklers are gone and both were linebackers so this unit will need some work early on and the transfer portal is expected to help as they work around Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste who had 51 tackles, a sack and an interception last season. The defensive line also loses some players, namely Big Kat Bryant who led the team with six sacks and contributed 47 tackles. The secondary will be the early strength with everyone returning led by safety Quadric Bullard who had 83 tackles and a trio of playmaking corners. 2022 Season OutlookThe situation is pretty simple in Orlando. Keep the defense as strong as it was, and it should be even better, and get the offense close to where it used to be, which is very possible, and this can be one dangerous team ready to dominate before heading to the Big 12 next season. That will be a big jump but this team is more than capable yet 2022 is on the mindset. The nonconference schedule consists of three home games, including Louisville and Georgia Tech, and a road game at Florida Atlantic so going 4-0 is a definite possibility. As for the American slate, the two tough road games are at East Carolina and Memphis with the home portion containing Cincinnati and SMU and the Knights miss Houston. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and this is a very gettable number as all it should take is a pair of wins in those four aforementioned conference games which is doable. 

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2022 UAB Blazers Preview

Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

UAB Blazers2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-2 C-USA West) - 9-3-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewUAB entered the FBS in 1997 as an Independent for two years before joining C-USA with very little success. Through 2014, the Blazers had a winning record just three times and made it to one bowl game, the Hawaii Bowl in 2004 and then suddenly, the university cut football altogether. They basically gave up. But in 2017, football was reborn and all they have to show for that is five straight winning seasons, a pair of C-USA championships and five bowl bids. Not bad for a team that took two years off and won with JUCO castoffs. Head coach Bill Clark led the resurgence but unfortunately, he resigned in June with back issues and offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent will serve as interim coach this season in what is the final one in C-USA before moving to the AAC next season. After having 18 and 19 starters back the last two seasons, only 14 return this year so there is work to do. OffenseThe offense was not great but it did enough to win three games by one possession and it did put up a decent number of points in most games. Overall, the Blazers finished No. 79 in total offense and No. 59 in scoring offense with the latter partially attributed to the defense that put them in good positions. Only six starters are back this season but quarterback Dylan Hopkins is one of those after throwing for 2,275 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions and while he is not a running threat, he did rush for five touchdowns as well. After checking out the transfer portal, leading receiver Trea Shropshire is back after gaining 702 yards with seven touchdowns but there is not much else experience. The running game is in fantastic shape as DeWayne McBride and Jermaine Brown are both back after combining for 2,002 yards but will be behind a patchwork offensive line. DefenseThe defense has been the strength for years and last season was no exception as UAB was No. 16 in total defense and No. 41 in scoring defense and with eight starters back, they are in great form. The linebackers took a hit with Alex Wright and Justin Thomas no longer around after combining for 10.5 sacks last season but they can work around Kyle Harrell and Noah Wilder who combined for 117 tackles and three sacks. The defensive line was stout against the run, finishing No. 11 in the nation but two key pieces of that three-man front have departed and there is not a ton of depth behind Fish McWilliams who is a massive body at nose tackle. It may take a while for the front seven to come together but the secondary can carry the unit in the early going. Safeties Keondre Swoopes and Will Boler combined for 111 tackles last season while corner Starling Thomas is a playmaker as well. 2022 Season OutlookIt is unfortunate that Clark had to retire but did have successful spinal fusion surgery so hopefully he can come back at some point. Vincent has a good knack for the offense so the unit should be fine as long as additional receivers can step up and keep the downfield attack vibrant. With once season left in C-USA, the goal is simple and that is to claim one last championship before moving on. The nonconference schedule includes a pair of easy games at home but the Blazers have to go to Liberty and then to LSU late in the season. The conference slate is pretty tame although they do get Western Kentucky from the East Division on the road with nothing else to demanding and the home schedule is manageable. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 which is lofty but deserved with a fairly easy schedule and the total wins could come down to a pair of November home games against UTSA and North Texas. 

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2022 Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Tulsa Golden Hurricane2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-3 American) - 8-5-0 ATS - 7-5-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewFormer head coach Steve Kragthorpe and his Tulsa team entered C-USA in 2005 and had its most sustained run since the 50s as he put together five winning records, including three double-digit marks, in six seasons before he left for Louisville where things did not work out as planned. The reigns were turned over to Bill Blankenship and he had two solid seasons, going 19-8 and then things took a turn. A bad turn. Six losing seasons in the next seven years cost him his job after four seasons and current head coach Philip Montgomery took over in 2015 which was the second year in the AAC for the Golden Hurricane and he took them to two straight bowl games. A rough stretch for the next three years followed and then the shortened COVID season produced a 6-3 record which likely saved his job and last season was another positive one. Now, we will see what he can do with very little. OffenseThe Tulsa offense has been pretty steady the last three seasons and last season with 10 starters back, it averaged 436.4 ypg which was No. 37 in the country but it averaged only 26.1 ppg which was No. 84 overall and that is a huge discrepancy. The problem was turnovers as the Golden Hurricane gave it away 24 times which was tied for No. 124 in the nation and many of those were drive killers. Quarterback Davis Brin will be in his second season as the full time starter and he needs to become more efficient. While he threw for 3,269 yards and 18 touchdowns but he tossed 16 interceptions while completing just over 59 percent of his passes. Two of his top three receivers are back led by JuanCarlos Santana who had 689 yards and three scores. Leading rusher Shamari Brooks has departed so a running back by committee takes over. The offensive line has just one starter back and that is a problem. DefenseThe defense tailed off in the passing game from 2021 and despite 10 starters back on this side of the ball as well, they allowed 38 more ypg and five more ppg, finishing No. 69 and No. 77 respectively. This season, only six starters return and the front six is going to need help from the start. Starting with the defensive line, they do get Anthony Goodlow back at one of the end spots and he led the team with six sacks but had just 27 tackles and the other two spots need replacements with Colorado transfer Jayden Simon likely grabbing one of those and the depth after that is a concern. Linebacker Justin Wright led the team with 82 tackles and contributed 3.5 sacks and like the front three, two additional starters need to be replaced. The secondary is the most experienced level with four of the five players having starting experience including all three safeties so the pass defense should be better. 2022 Season OutlookEven though he is coming off two straight winning seasons, this is a big year for Montgomery to keep the momentum going and not begin another tailspin. Lack of experience and a fairly tough schedule are going to make it difficult to contend in the once again loaded American and a decent start is important as last season, they started 0-3 and were forced to win their last three to become bowl eligible. A 2-2 record in the four nonconference games is necessary at the very least and a 3-1 start is doable with the opener at Wyoming being a big swing game. The conference schedule has its good and bad portions with home games against Cincinnati and SMU and road games at Memphis and Houston being most difficult and those last two come late in the season. The O/U win total is set at 6 and that looks to be spot on and that includes not losing to both Navy and Temple in back-to-back roadies. 

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2022 Tulane Green Wave Preview

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Tulane Green Wave2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-7 American) - 6-6-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewTulane endured 10 straight losing seasons from 2003-2012 but then went 7-6 in its final season in C-USA and head coach Curtis Johnson could not keep it going as he went 3-9 the next two seasons and made way for current head coach Willie Fritz who is now in his seventh year on the sidelines. After a pair of losing seasons to start his stint here, he carried the Green Wave to three straight bowl games with a 20-18 record over that stretch and while that is nothing spectacular, it was progress in the right direction as Tulane did not have three straight seasons of being .500 or better since 1979-1981. Then last year happened. It nearly started with a major upset at Oklahoma as it lost by just five points and then the wheels fell off with eight straight losses. The one positive from this is that there was no quit as the last three defeats were by a touchdown or less and they will be a hungry bunch. OffenseThe offense was supposed to dominate last season as 10 starters were back from a team that scored 31 or more points eight times in 2020 but got to that number only three times last year, one against Morgan St. of the FCS. The unit did not drop off much but more was expected and overall it finished No. 74 in total offense and No. 72 in scoring offense. Most everyone is back and this is the season where a big leap needs to take place where quarterback Michael Pratt will be leading it again. He threw for 2,381 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions but he completed just 57.6 percent of his passes as he was constantly under duress. The offensive line allowed 32 sacks, No. 97 in the nation, but four starters are back and should be much better. Three of the top five receivers are back that combined for 1,054 yards while leading rusher Tyjae Spears and his 863 yards also returns. DefenseThe defense was nearly the same as the offense where the yardage averages were roughly the same from the previous season but the points allowed took a nosedive similar to where the offense dropped off in scoring. The defense was gashed a bunch early to midseason but the Green Wave allowed 20 points or less in three of the last four games yet overall still finished No. 115 in scoring defense and No. 103 in total defense. There is talent at every level with Nick Anderson and Dorian Williams leading the way at linebacker in the 4-2-5 scheme after combining for 129 tackles last season. Up front, there needs to be more disruption as end Darius Hodges is back after leading the team with five sacks but the rest of the group needs to get more involved. Safety Macon Clark is the leading returning tackler with 75 stops and heads the secondary that should improve. 2022 Season OutlookAfter the disappointing season last year, Fritz is in need for a rebound or this could be the end of the line. A lot of pieces are in place for a big improvement but anything similar to last season likely means a change would be imminent. The schedule is in their favor in some regards but it is still not an easy one overall. The Green Wave have seven home games, the most since 2012 and they have to take advantage of this. The first four are all winnable against Alcorn St., Massachusetts, Southern Miss and East Carolina but the backend of Memphis, UCF and SMU is a challenge. The road slate has one easy game at South Florida but the other four are at Kansas St., Houston, Tulsa and Cincinnati, the last three that resulted in home losses last year by 44 points. The O/U win total is set at 6 which is more than attainable but there can be no home upsets and it will have to find a way for a couple big road wins. 

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2022 Troy Trojans Preview

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Troy Trojans2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 SBC East) - 4-8-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 9OverviewTroy entered the Sun Belt Conference in 2004 and immediately became a player with winning seasons in six of its first seven years under head coach Larry Blakeney but he finished 17-31 the next four years and was let go. Neal Brown took over a program that was heading in the wrong direction but he turned it around quickly as after a 4-8 first season, the Trojans put together three straight double-digit win seasons and three bowl victories and Brown was scooped up by West Virginia. Chip Lindsey was brought in from a great background as offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, Arizona St. and Auburn over five years but he could not continue the momentum as his three-year tenure resulted in three five-win seasons. Current head coach Jon Sumrall is in his first season after a three-year stint at Kentucky, the last being co-defensive coordinator and knows this program. OffenseTroy returned 10 starters on offense last season and the production dipped considerably over the previous two seasons, going from an average of 458.4 ypg in 2019 to 393.2 ypg in 2020 to 339.9 ypg last season which was No. 108 in the nation while averaging just 22.8 ppg, No. 102 overall. The Trojans return nine starters this season and the offense should improve immensely. Quarterback Gunnar Watson is in his fifth year in the program and this will be his third head coach and different system but this should be his best after a very average season last year. Three of his top four receivers are back highlighted by leading receiver Tez Johnson who had 735 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in 67 catches. The offensive line has four starters back and needs to open holes for a running game that was No. 122 in the country. Leading rusher Kimani Vidal is back after gaining 701 yards. DefenseThe defense kept Troy competitive last season as it finished No. 27 in total defense but allowed 26.1 ppg which was just No. 65 overall and a lot of that was due to a poor finish where it allowed 35 or more points in four of its last five games after not allowing that many points in any of the first seven contests. Nine starters also return on this side and a really good defense should be even better. The front six is loaded with pass rushers and will be anchored by bandits Javon Solomon and Richard Jibunor who combined for 18.5 sacks and 91 tackles and defensive tackle Will Choloh who had 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Behind them are two of the top three returning tacklers in Carlton Martial and K.J. Robertson who combined for 191 stops at linebacker. Safeties T.J. Harris and Dell Pettus had 110 tackles between them to lead the secondary so there are playmakers at all three levels. 2022 Season OutlookSumrall comes into a very good situation and his first season is comprised of experience and talent everywhere on both sides of the ball and overall, Troy is ranked No. 17 in returning production so there is no reason for this team to make a big jump. Actually, one reason going against that could be the schedule as the Trojans have one of the toughest in the conference while playing in the loaded SBC East Division. They open the season at Mississippi and then get a break with a home game against Alabama A&M before opening conference action at Appalachian St. The two remaining nonconference games are no east tasks at Western Kentucky and at home against Army. Troy also faces UL-Lafayette from the West Division on the road. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and despite the brutal road portion of the slate, there are enough winnable games to surpass the number and get back to a bowl game.  

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2022 Toledo Rockets Preview

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Toledo Rockets2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-3 MAC West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewThe Rockets have been a mainstay at the top of the MAC for years now as they come into 2022 without having a losing season since 2009 which was the fourth straight that eventually cost former head coach Tom Amstutz his job after a great start to his time with Toledo. Tim Beckman and Matt Campbell kept the winning going before they headed off to bigger schools and both left the program in great shape. Toledo returned all 11 starters last season on both sides of the ball and snuck out a winning record at 7-6 but five of those losses were by just one possession. The Rockets have had a winning pedigree for years now and that will continue again this season with 15 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 38. Head coach Jason Candle is in his seventh season and this is his most important as he has done fine of late but has not taken them to where they expect to be. OffenseDespite having all 11 starters back last season, the offense slipped a little bit from 2020 as its yardage decreased by 57 ypg but it was still solid enough to finish No. 38 in total offense and No. 24 in scoring offense and Toledo should be able keep the unit rolling with some great experience coming back. Quarterback Dequan Finn led the offense and while his numbers were not eye-popping, he was very efficient as he threw for 2,067 yards with 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions and his one drawback is the accuracy as he hit below 60 percent of his passes. Two of his top three receivers transferred out leaving Devon Maddox as his go to threat after leading the team with 567 yards while hauling in four touchdowns. Leading rusher Bryant Koback is gone to the NFL and Jacquez Stuart and Micah Kelly will handle the load behind an offensive line with three starters returning. DefenseThe defense is coming off its best season in three years as the Rockets finished No. 32 in total defense and No. 27 in scoring defense and are loaded with eight starters back this season. This is one of the top linebacking corps in the MAC with Jamal Hines and Dyontae Johnson combining for 174 tackles and 11.5 sacks and they will continue to bring the pressure. The rushing defense was not great as the Rockets allowed 151.3 ypg which was No. 64 in the country and the defensive line needs to shore that up. The front is led by end Desjuan Johnson who had 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks with a pair of forced fumbles and the rest of the unit will have to pick it up including tackle Judge Culpepper who had 43 tackles and three sacks and should be a force. The secondary is led by safeties Maxen Hook and Nate Bauer who combined for 151 tackles to go along with a great corner combo. 2022 Season OutlookToledo has been the most consistent team in the MAC spanning the last 12 years as other top teams have scaled back some here and there but the Rockets have had just enough to sustain its success. The coaching hires have been great and the goal is to get back to the MAC Championship for the first time since 2017 and win a bowl game for the first time since 2015, which was the first game here for Candle, and the pieces are in place on both sides to accomplish this. The nonconference schedule is good and bad as they host Long Island and Massachusetts to open but then travel to Ohio St. and San Diego St. The MAC schedule is in their favor and their two toughest games are the first two against Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, both of which should come down a notch this season. The O/U win total is set at 8 and this one should be an easy over as the MAC road games are all gettable. 

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2022 Texas Tech Red Raiders Preview

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Texas Tech Red Raiders2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (3-6 Big 12) - 7-5-1 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewNot since the days of Mike Leach has Texas Tech been prominent in the Big 12 Conference, let alone nationally. The last winning record in the conference came in 2009 which was his last year on the sidelines and the Red Raiders have maxed out at four wins, which they have done three times, over the past 12 seasons. Tommy Tuberville got them to two bowl games in three years, Kliff Kingsbury got them to three bowl games in six years and most recently, Matt Wells was partially responsible for one bowl game in just over two and a half seasons before leaving after eight games last year. Joey McGuire takes over this season after spending the last two years at Baylor working with the defense and this is his first crack as a collegiate head coach and first time being higher than a position coach. He was a renowned high school coach in Texas so he will be able to recruit but will that be enough?  OffenseThe offense slipped in all three years under Wells and last season, the Red Raiders finished No. 61 in total offense and No. 53 in scoring offense and they need to get some of that offensive groove back. McGuire hired Zach Kittley as offensive coordinator, the same position he held at Western Kentucky last season and he was a GA for three seasons at Texas Tech under Kingsbury so he knows his offense and the culture here. The quarterback situation remains unclear but it is not a bad situation as Tyler Shough, Donovan Smith and Behren Morton are all fighting for the spot and all are capable of running this offense. The two top receivers are gone but there is depth from a group that will make plays. Running backs SaRodorick Thompson and Tajh Brooksrushed for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns so they will get theirs. Only two starters are back on the offensive line where pass protection will be key. DefenseUnlike the offense, the defense improved over the last two seasons but it was certainly nothing special as last year, Texas Tech finished No. 91 in total defense and No. 104 in scoring defense. McGuire brought in Tim DeRuyter to run the unit where he has had some success in his previous stops and they will be a lot more aggressive. The defensive line was good at getting to the quarterback as Tyree Wilson, Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford, Jr. combined for 14 sacks and all three are back to anchor the front. The linebackers took a hit losing two of the top four tacklers on the team and they are going to rely upon veterans Krishon Merriweather and Jesiah Pierre while bringing in transfer help. Four seniors will start in the secondary led by safeties Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and Reggie Pearson, Jr. who combined for 116 tackles but corners Rayshad Williams and Adrian Frye need to make plays. 2022 Season OutlookThis will be an interesting season in Lubbock as the program hired a defensive coach, a position that is not uttered around there often, to lead the team to take pressure off of the offense that will be learning a brand new system but one that has the potential to explode. On paper, both units should be a lot better but it could take some time and the early part of the schedule does not give them a lot of leeway. The Red Raiders host Murray St. in the opener which is a good game to get the feet wet but then they host Houston, are at NC State and then welcome Texas for the Big 12 opener and if things do not gel quick, a 1-3 start is very possible. The remainder of the conference slate has four games both at home and on the road, each dotted with tough matchups in a wide open Big 12. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and this looks to be a pass with too many new parts to decipher so early. 

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2022 Texas St. Bobcats Preview

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Texas St. Bobcats2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-5 SBC West) - 7-5-0 ATS -5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 6OverviewTexas St. joined the FBS ranks in 2012 under head coach Dennis Franchione for a one year stint in the WAC before going to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013 where it posted a 13-11 record in the first two years but it has been all downhill since. The Bobcats have endured seven straight losing seasons, compiling a 19-65 record over that stretch and is still seeking the first bowl game for the program. Current head coach Jake Spavital is entering his fourth season and while a 4-8 record last year is hardly a big move, it was the best record over the past seven years and can provide some necessary confidence to a team in dire need of something positive. Texas St. returns 16 starters and has a No. 23 returning production ranking including No. 7 on offense where some big steps forward are expected. This could be the make or break year for Spavital as he leans on a veteran group. OffenseThe offense regressed slightly from 2020 which really did not make a difference as it was terrible to begin with and finished No. 104 in total offense and No. 101 in scoring offense. The running game was inconsistent, the passing game was nonexistent but they did avoid turning the ball over too much with 19 giveaways including just one over the last four games. Quarterback Brady McBride was not the answer and he left for Appalachian St. and it will be up to a trio of potential starters to take hold of the job led by Arkansas St. transfer Layne Hatcher who was not very good on a very bad team last season but this offense can fit his style. The backup from last season Ty Evans is also in the mix. The receiving corps is solidified with Javan Banks and Marcell Barbee combining for 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns. The running game will have to step up and an experienced offensive line will help.  DefenseThe defense improved by over 60 ypg and five ppg but it was still bad as the Bobcats finished No. 106 in total defense and No. 109 in scoring defense. There are good core pieces in place but nothing stands out to provide any glimpse of significant improvement heading into the season. The Bobcats finished with only 18 sacks which was tied for No. 112 in the nation so a stronger pass rush is vital. Issiah Nixon led the team with four sacks and he returns in a hybrid role which means the defensive ends will have to step up and create pressure. The linebackers are the strength of the defense with Sione Tupou and London Harris combining for 108 tackles but need to do more behind the line. Texas St. had only 11 takeaways, which was No. 118 in the country, and that included just three interceptions, second fewest in the nation so the secondary needs to make plays happen. 2022 Season OutlookThere has been progress made in San Marcos but it has been very little and with so many teams in the Sun Belt Conference having taken a step up at some point over the last decade, the Bobcats have been unable to do so after a promising start in their first two seasons here. However, this is the first time in a while that there are expectations to improve even more and if things can go their way, the first ever bowl game is within reach. The nonconference schedule is in their favor as aside from a trip to Baylor, the three other games against Nevada, Florida International and Houston Baptist are all winnable. Conference action starts on the road at newcomer James Madison which is part of a tame road slate as they get Appalachian St. and UL-Lafayette at home. The O/U win total is set at 5 and playing seven teams that had losing records, avoiding any devastating losses is paramount.  

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2022 Texas A&M Aggies Preview

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Texas A&M Aggies2021-22 Season Record 8-4 (4-4 SEC West) - 7-5-0 ATS -5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 5OverviewGood things are happening at Texas A&M where head coach Jimbo Fisher has firmly put his plan into place in the program and has compiled a 34-14 record in his first four seasons with the best yet to come, or at least that is the hope. It was supposed to start last season as the Aggies were the preseason No. 6 team in the country and crept up to No. 5 before opening 0-2 in the SEC. Instead of folding, they went out and defeated Alabama, as a new heated rivalry is being born, which sparked a four-game winning streak but losing the final two conference games left them out of the final top 25 poll. Only 12 starters are back but the Aggies are getting a lot of help via the transfer portal and they brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country amid controversy from Nick Saban of course so this should be the start of great things as long as they can navigate a tough schedule. OffenseThe offense was very inconsistent last season, scoring 34 or more points six times but putting up 24 or fewer points in the other six games including a pair of 10 spots. The Aggies finished No. 71 in total offense and No. 60 in scoring offense as the passing offense could never get going behind Zach Calzada but they are in a good position this year. Quarterback Max Johnson transfers in from LSU where he was great last season, passing for 2,815 yards with 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions while Haynes King, who opened last season as the starter before getting hurt in the second game, is back fully healthy so there is a good battle. The receiving corps needs to break out as they are loaded with speed but still young. Leading rusher Isaiah Spiller is gone but Devon Achane ran for 910 yards and nine touchdowns and will be behind a strong and experienced offensive line. DefenseStrong defense has been the steady force for Texas A&M and last year was no exception as it finished No. 20 in total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense but there are just five starters back that has a No. 91 returning production ranking. The defensive line took the biggest hit but it also has the biggest promise as this is where the majority of the top recruits are stationed and they will be thrown right into the proverbial fire to keep the unit afloat. The veteran linebackers will ease some of that transition as Edgerrin Cooper and Andre White, Jr. combined for 115 tackles and need to get more involved in the pass rush that loses 17 sacks from DeMarvin Leal and Tyree Johnson, both of which are with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The secondary is also loaded with prized recruits but nickel back Antonio Johnson and safety Demani Richardson headline the group after 144 combined tackles. 2022 Season OutlookBringing in the best recruiting class in the history of the program is a massive haul but it has to live up to expectations which starts right away. The Aggies are ranked No. 7 in the preseason coaches poll with Alabama and Georgia joining them from the SEC inside that ranking so hopes are high in College Station for the plan to take effect immediately. The nonconference schedule provides a good test early in the season as Texas A&M welcomes Sam Houston, the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs last year, Appalachian St. and Miami Fla. before the schedule really ramps up. Four consecutive games away from home are up next with a neutral game against Arkansas and road games at Mississippi St., Alabama and South Carolina before four of the final five games being at home. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and there are a ton of early roadblocks that can prevent them getting to that number.  

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2022 Texas Longhorns Preview

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Texas Longhorns2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-6 Big 12) - 5-7-0 ATS -5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewAfter years of mediocrity in the 90s, former head coach Mack Brown got Texas back to the top, stringing together nine straight double-digit win seasons including a National Championship in 2005, part of six seasons where it was ranked No. 6 or better in the final AP Poll. Then the slide began as Brown was around for only four more seasons and Charlie Strong failed to produce a winning record in his three years and while Tom Herman posted four winning seasons in his four years including four bowl wins, it was not good enough. Current head coach Steve Sarkisian came in last season as the next savior and failed to put up a winning record as the Longhorns suffered a six-game losing streak that included an embarrassing home loss to Kansas as a 31-point favorite. Texas has good experience, welcome an incoming recruiting class ranked No. 5 and will rely on transfers in a pivotal year. OffenseThe offense took a step back from the two previous seasons but it was far from horrible as the Longhorns were ranked No. 49 in total offense and No. 20 in scoring offense but they came up small down the stretch and could not carry a poor defense during that losing streak. The rushing offense led the way, which was ranked No. 26 in nation, headed by running back Bijan Johnson who ran for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns at a 5.8 ypc clip and he will once again play a big part in the offense. Taking over at quarterback will be either Ohio St. transfer Quinn Ewers who is a former five-star recruit, or the back up from last season Hudson Card as neither is giving in during camp. Whoever wins the job, they will have Xavier Worthy to throw to after his 981 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The makeshift offensive line that allowed 26 sacks received an upgrade and will be better. DefenseThe defense also regressed down the stretch, allowing 30 or more points in each of those six games of that losing streak including giving up 57 points in that Kansas game. Texas was ranked No. 100 in total defense and No. 97 in scoring defense and the defensive line took the most heat. They could not stop the run as they allowed 202.4 ypg on 5.2 ypc which was No. 115 in the country and they could not get to the opposing quarterback as they registered only 20 sacks, tied for No. 98 in the nation. A year of experience will do wonders for this unit. The linebackers led the way last season and should do so again behind DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer who were the top two tacklers with a combined 144 stops. Safeties Anthony Cook and Jerrin Thompson had 88 tackles between them and head an experienced secondary that will benefit from a bigger pass rush. 2022 Season OutlookTexas is off to the SEC either next season or in 2024 with the top ranked quarterback recruit in the country in Arch Manning but first things first, Texas has to do better now. There is talent all over the place, especially on offense where playmakers are prevalent and while the quarterback situation is muddy, it is a good problem to have with Ewers and Card having excellent camps. The Longhorns open at home against Louisiana-Monroe and then Sarkisian gets a shot at his former team as they face Alabama and while it is at home, it will be a tough ask to win. Facing every conference team keeps the playing field level for all teams and the Texas schedule is in its favor with the biggest true road test at Oklahoma St. and getting Iowa St. and Baylor at home. The O/U win total is set at 8 which is a fair number and it can go over by taking care of business at home and winning the road games it needs to.  

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2022 Tennessee Volunteers Preview

Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Tennessee Volunteers2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 SEC East) - 5-8-0 ATS - 10-3-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewIt has been a coaching carousel in Knoxville since head coach Phillip Fulmer was let go back in 2008, the year after Tennessee had its last double-digit winning season. Those were commonplace for the Volunteers as Fulmer was involved in a stretch of 16 straight bowl games but have been sporadic of late with just five appearances over the last 11 years. Josh Heupel took over last season for Jeremy Pruit who was fired for recruiting violations and got them back into the postseason following a 3-7 season in 2020. Tennessee did not exactly light the SEC on fire but blew out the teams they were supposed to and losing to Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi is nothing to get down about but the Volunteers have been waiting a long time to get back in that mix. It might not be this season but Heupel did an outstanding job at Central Florida and he could be just the right guy here. OffenseAfter plodding along for a few years, the Tennessee offense got rolling last season as it finished No. 16 overall and No. 9 in scoring. The Volunteers did have troubles against the big boys but that was expected and they were still able to increase their output by 140 ypg and 17 ppg from the previous season. Give credit to quarterback Hendon Hooker, who was not even the starter and the beginning of the season, as he ran an efficient offense, throwing for 2,945 yards with 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing close to 70 percent of his passes. His favorite targets are back led by Cedric Tillman who had over 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. The running game will be fine with leading rusher Jabari Small returning after rushing for 792 yards. The offensive line opened holes but needs to pass protect better as they allowed 44 sacks, No. 123 in the nation. DefenseThe defense was not very good last season, putting up roughly the same numbers from 2020 as it had just five starters returning and struggled in both areas but should improve in year two of the system. They finished No. 85 in total defense and No. 79 in scoring defense and while they did have some really solid efforts, they were bludgeoned in others and a happy medium would be just fine. Tennessee plays a scheme with two linebackers and both are outstanding as Jeremy Banks and Aaron Beasley combined for 212 tackles and seven sacks with plenty of depth behind them. The defensive line is huge and the rushing defense was better than the passing defense and should continue to get better. Despite the Volunteers applying excellent pressure, the secondary struggled but has two good safeties in Trevon Flowers and Jaylen McCollough that combined for 131 tackles and five picks. 2022 Season OutlookThere is a buzz again in Tennessee even though it was just one season that resulted in a one game over .500 record but it just felt different. Offense makes people excited and this offense did that and will likely create more enthusiasm. Hooker is ranked No. 3 in the SEC among quarterbacks and the sky is the limit but getting through the conference schedule will be a challenge. The nonconference schedule features three cupcakes at home with Ball St., Akron and UT-Martin with a road game at Pittsburgh also included. As for the SEC, the bad news is road games at LSU, Georgia and South Carolina but they do get Florida and Alabama at home although that really does not constitute as good news. Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky are also mixed in. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 and with the looks of seven wins on paper, it is going to take a couple upsets to get to the over. 

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2022 Temple Owls Preview

Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Temple Owls2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (1-7 American) - 2-10-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 6OverviewWell that did not go as planned. Former head coaches Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins put Temple back on the map with a combined 41-23 record from 2014-2018 and Rod Carey, who turned Northern Illinois into a force in the MAC, was brought in to keep it going and he did for one season with an 8-5 record in 2019 but the wheels fell off quickly as the Owls went 4-15 the last two seasons. After a 3-2 start last season, Temple closed with seven straight losses, all by 20 or more points and the writing was on the wall before the season ended as the team quit on Carey. Stan Drayton takes over after a five-year stint at Texas where he was associate head coach but has never been a coordinator let alone a head coach yet has worked under some great ones from winning programs. It is not a complete rebuild but this is more about turning around the culture that went south fast.  OffenseSince Collins left the program, the offense has regressed each season, bottoming out last year averaging just 286.9 ypg and 16.3 ppg which were No. 125 and No. 127 in the country respectively. The Owls were awful in both the running and passing games and there is no where to go but up. Quarterback D'Wan Mathis showed promise last season but was unable to stay on the field as he missed two games early as well as the final three games so keeping him healthy is goal number one. That will be the priority of the offensive line that has three starters back and needs to improve its pass protection after allowing 29 sacks last season and the rotation is strengthened with incoming transfers. Two of the top three receivers are back and more plays need to be made downfield which can be accomplished by establishing a running game led by Edward Haydee who had just 321 yards. DefenseThe defense has been gashed over the last two seasons, allowing close to 38 ppg and an inability to stop the run where they gave up nearly 5.0 ypc. Last season, the Owls were No. 82 in total defense but that is skewed as opposing offenses just killed the clock by running the ball which gave the defense a misleading ranking of No. 5 against the pass as it simply was not thrown on very often. Fixing the defensive line is the main concern and it will not be an easy repair as the rotation is young and lacking experience so it will be up to the linebackers to help cause disruption in the backfield after registering just 17 sacks.  Jordan Magee and Kobe Wilson combined for 104 tackles last season but had just one sack between them. The secondary lost safety Amir Tyler who was the leading tackler but Alex Odom and his 65 tackles is back along with a group of corners that was never really tested. 2022 Season OutlookIt was shocking to see a team move to 3-2 on the season with an upset over Memphis to completely imploding on both sides of the ball, getting outscored 42.7-8.4 over the final seven games. Enter Drayton who has his hands full in getting his team back in the moment and not dwelling on the end of last season. Helping out is a very favorable early schedule that can get the confidence brewing. Temple travels to Duke for the season opener and then hosts Lafayette, Rutgers and Massachusetts to close September. The conference schedule is tough with three difficult road games at revenge minded Memphis, Central Florida and Houston and getting Tulsa, Cincinnati and East Carolina at home is no walk in the park either. The O/U win total is 2.5 and while Temple will likely be staying home during bowl season, the nonconference schedule is good enough to snatch three victories. 

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2022 TCU Horned Frogs Preview

Friday, Aug 12, 2022

TCU Horned Frogs2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-6 Big 12) - 2-9-1 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 7OverviewTCU has won everywhere it has been and former head coach Gary Patterson was the architect of it all. He was hired in 2001 after Dennis Franchione turned the program into a winner in his three years and Patterson never looked back as his Horned Frogs went 32-16 in four years in C-USA and then dominated the MWC for seven years with a 77-13 record. Going to the Big 12 was a massive move but the transition was smooth with three 11-win seasons in the first six years but starting in 2018, a 21-22 record forced a mutual split midway through last season as the once proud defense completely fell off and the offense was stuck in neutral. Sonny Dykes comes over from SMU and has landed in a great situation with 17 returning starters and a returning production ranking of No. 7. There is no rebuild here which usually comes after a coach leaving and TCU is ready to flourish again. OffenseThis is where things will get exciting as Dykes is known for his high-powered offenses and while TCU finished No. 36 in total offense last season, it needed an upgrade and that it will get. The passing game has faltered over the last few years and last season Max Duggan was ok, throwing for 2,048 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions but lacked the big downfield ability. That will change in the new system but there is still familiarity so it will not be a complete do over with the offense as his top four receivers are back that accounted for 11 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards. The offensive line has a lot of size and experience and helped the Horned Frogs finish No. 27 in rushing offense with 197.0 ypg and while leading rusher Zach Evans has departed, the cupboard is far from empty with Kendre Miller and Emari Demarcado combining for 1,069 yards and 11 touchdowns. DefenseThis is where the problem lies as TCU was awful on defense and that word has never been associated with this unit as the Horned Frogs were No. 119 in total defense and No. 118 in scoring defense. They allowed 100 more ypg and 11 more ppg than the previous season so there is work to be done. Dykes brought in defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie who turned the Tulsa defense completely around in his three years and he will improve this unit right away. The main concern is up front as TCU had just 15 sacks last season which was tied for No. 122 in the nation and a new scheme should make a difference with a lot needing to be replaced. The linebackers will be the strength in the 3-3-5 alignment led by Dee Winters and Jamoi Hodge who combined for 132 tackles. The secondary needs help as it has to replace a pair of starters but should be ok as long as the front six generates a pass rush.  2022 Season OutlookReplacing a future hall of fame coach is never easy, especially one that was around here for 21 years but Dykes and his staff should make the transition a smooth one. They have excellent Texas ties and already brought in a great recruiting class so the goal is to be noteworthy again starting right now. The Horned Frogs open at Colorado and then host Tarleton St. before Dykes returns to SMU for their final nonconference game. He will get his Big 12 feet wet right away with a game against Oklahoma, one of five on the schedule that also includes Oklahoma St. and Iowa St. The road portion of the slate starts relatively easy with games at Kansas and West Virginia but back-to-back games at Texas and Baylor in late November will be challenging. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and the over is gettable but will likely come down to the final three games of the season against Texas, Baylor and Iowa St. 

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2022 Syracuse Orange Preview

Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

Syracuse Orange2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (2-6 ACC Atlantic) - 8-4-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewAs part of the early years of the Big East Conference, Syracuse was a mainstay throughout the season being ranked in the AP Poll, numerous times in the top ten with its highest finish being No. 6 in 1992. After the 2001 season, things started falling apart under head coaches Paul Pasqualoni and Greg Robinson and they had to vacate 11 wins from 2004-2006. Since then, it has been a lot of averageness with 16 of the last 20 seasons resulting in .500 or worse records. Current head coach Dino Babers was a hot commodity coming out of Bowling Green and after a pair of 4-8 seasons, he got the Orange back to winning with a 10-3 record in 2018 but it has now been three straight losing seasons and Babers is clearly on the hot seat. Last season, they opened 5-4 with three losses by three points and then lost their last three games to miss a bowl. Now is the time with a loaded roster. OffenseBabers knows his offense and he got it rolling in that 2018 season but Syracuse has been unable to sustain it and it finished No. 94 in total offense and No. 91 in scoring offense but those rankings should go up this season if things go as planned. Quarterback Garrett Shrader is a duel threat that will be the opening game starter after starting the last nine games last season but there is competition behind him. He threw for just 1,444 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions but he was not expected to make many plays with his arm as he rushed for 781 yards and 14 touchdowns, second most in the ACC. Coupled with running back Sean Tucker who rushed for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns, the Orange had the No. 18 ranked rushing offense in the nation. An improved offensive line will bolster that again and while young, the receiving corps has plenty of options. DefenseSyracuse quietly had a great defense last season as it finished No. 24 overall and second in the ACC but gave up too many points when it did not need to as it was No. 68 in scoring. The Orange are loaded once again but there are some holes to fill yet there is a lot of experience with a returning production ranking of No. 17. The linebacking corps will be one of the best in the conference once again as Mikel Johnson, who was the leading tackler, Stefon Thompson and Marlowe Wax accounted for 248 tackles and 14.5 sacks and this unit can take them as far as they want to go. They sit behind a defensive line that is very young all the way through with just one upperclassman in the nine-player, three-deep chart but they should come together. The secondary is built around a pair of solid corners in Garrett Williams and Darian Chestnut with safety getting help from transfers. 2022 Season OutlookIt has been a poor run of late but Babers was given one more chance as his team was one of the youngest in the country last season and if all goes right, or at least some of it does, this could be a future player in the ACC. More balance is needed on offense and if Shrader can execute, it could be a surprisingly big season for Syracuse. It will all come down to a good start with the first half of the schedule in their favor although it will not be easy. Five of the first six games are at home with the lone road game at a bad Connecticut team. Included are three ACC games against Louisville, Virginia and NC State as well as Purdue, none of which are easy. The second half is brutal with games at Clemson, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest and home games against Notre Dame and Florida St. The O/U Win total is set at 5 and this one is tricky as if the Orange can hold serve at home, the over is there.  

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2022 Stanford Cardinal Preview

Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

Stanford Cardinal2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-7 Pac 12 North) - 3-9-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 7OverviewJim Harbaugh turned around a program stuck in neutral as he came onto the scene in 2007 and after enduring a pair of losing seasons, Stanford became elite as he closed with a 20-6 record in his final two seasons that included an Orange Bowl win in 2010 and a final ranking of No. 4 in the country. Current head coach David Shaw took over a great situation and to his credit, he did not just ride the coattails of Harbaugh as he sustained the success for eight straight seasons that included five double-digit winning campaigns, three additional top ten finishes and a pair of Rose Bowl victories. The production fell of in 2019 as the Cardinal had just nine starters back and they have not recovered with an 11-19 record over the last three seasons and the seat might be getting a little warm for Shaw. He brings back the third most experienced team in the country and he will need it. OffenseOffensively, Stanford started strong but completely imploded late, averaging a mere 11.8 ppg over its last five games and on the season, finished No. 121 in total offense and No. 114 in scoring offense. The once potent running game has been nonexistent during this recent skid culminated last season as the Cardinal averaged just 87.3 ypg on 3.2 ypc, No. 126 in the nation. It does not look encouraging to improve this year as Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones, who combined for 782 yards on 4.2 ypc last season, both transferred out so somebody will have to step up behind an offensive line that was terrible last season but now has a ton of experience. One bright spot of the offense early on was quarterback Tanner McKie who threw for 2,327 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and he should be better behind that improved line and all of his top targets returning. DefenseThe defense has taken a big step backwards over the last few years as they have regressed every season since 2018. Last season, Stanford finished No. 114 in total defense and No. 106 in scoring defense as this side of the ball also imploded down the stretch. While the offense was unable to run the ball, the defense was unable to stop opposing offenses from gashing them on the ground as Stanford allowed 237.6 ypg on 5.9 ypc. Seven starters are back and there is experience all over the field so there is no reason there should not be a significant improvement. The linebackers are the strength, led by Levani Damuni and Ricky Miezan who combined for 154 tackles and of course a lot of those were on running backs getting through the defensive line that needs to shore up and provide a push. The secondary was not tested much because it did not have to be and is an experienced group. 2022 Season OutlookStatistically, Stanford was one of the worst power five teams in the country last season as it completely folded down the stretch with seven straight losses following an encouraging 3-2 start that included wins over USC and Oregon. What happened after that is anyone's guess and that type of finish is the last thing a team wants heading into a make or break season. Also unwanted is a schedule that is brutal. Stanford opens the season with a home game against Colgate and then faces revenge-minded USC the following week to open conference play. That is one of only four Pac 12 home games with the other three coming against Oregon St., Arizona St. and Washington St., all winnable but that means the road portion is tough at Oregon, UCLA and Utah. Add in Notre Dame and BYU and it is not ideal. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and this one looks to be a clear pass. 

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2022 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles Preview

Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 C-USA West) - 4-8-0 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 7OverviewBack in the day, Southern Mississippi used to be a prominent team in C-USA as from 1996-2011, it had a winning record in all 16 seasons and went to 14 bowl games under head coaches Jeff Bower and Larry Fedora. When Fedora left for North Carolina, Ellis Johnson was hired in 2012 and was let go nearly as quick following a 0-12 season. It took three years for Todd Monken to turn things back around and it started a string of five straight winning seasons under he and Jay Hopson so things were back on track until Hopson left after one game in 2020 which left the program in shambles and last season, they stumbled to a 3-9 record under first year head coach Will Hall. Now it is a brand new start in the Sun Belt Conference and Southern Mississippi brings back 16 starters and has the No. 7 ranked returning production in the country to try and make noise in its first year in the conference. OffenseThe Golden Eagles brought back eight starters on offense last season but could do nothing right as it finished No. 127 in total offense and No. 122 in scoring offense, down 105 ypg and 7 ppg from the previous season. The quarterback situation was a mess as not one of five players could grasp the offense and part of that problem was also with the offensive line as they allowed 8.8 tackles per loss per game which was most in the country that led to turnovers and too many long yardage situations. The starting job is again up for grabs but the line will be stronger with good experience at the very least providing some comfort. The running game will once again feature Frank Gore, Jr. who ran for 801 yards with five touchdowns and he should go well beyond that number. Whoever wins the quarterback job will have a lot of options to throw to as nearly everyone is back. DefenseThe defense did their part last season, to an extent, as it finished No. 42 in total defense and No. 80 in scoring defense although those rankings are a bit skewed. Because the offense had 31 turnovers, the most in the nation, that led to the defense being pinned leading to scores on short fields which upped the points allowed and falsely reduced the length of scoring drives. Nonetheless, the defense is very experienced and loaded with talent at all three levels. Safety and leading tackler Malik Shorts heads the secondary that is a bit of an unknown considering teams did not have to throw very much at them so this could be the make or break unit. One thing is for sure, the 23 sacks from last season, tied for No. 87, needs to increase and that would only help the secondary. The linebacking corps led by Hayes Maples is loaded with everyone back and depth at all three positions. 2022 Season OutlookThis is a very important season for Southern Mississippi football as it leaves C-USA after 26 seasons to join a revamped Sun Belt Conference in what is basically a lateral move that could go either way. There is experience all over the place but talent is still a question as getting a read from last season is difficult. Add to that, the recruiting class ranked No. 123 last season so the future is now as a drop off down the line looks inevitable. The nonconference schedule is tough from the start, hosting a very good Liberty team before going to Miami Fla. but then comes a pair of likely wins. It is a mixed bag of conference games as the home portion is more difficult which is ideal and the only real road test is at Coastal Carolina. The O/U win total is set at 4 and the Golden Eagles should surpass this but by how much is an uneducated guess based on how they adapt to the new surroundings. 

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2022 South Florida Bulls Preview

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

South Florida Bulls2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-7 American) - 7-5-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 9OverviewSouth Florida entered the scene in 2000 under the direction of head coach Jim Leavitt and it was immediate success with four straight winning seasons before a hiccup in 2004 and then it was five more years of .500 or better and five bowl games. Skip Holtz took over in 2010 and lasted only three years as the Bulls regressed each season and then Willie Taggart inherited a mess only to turn it around in three years and in 2016, the Bulls finished the season ranked in the top 20 for the first timer ever. Charlie Strong could not keep it going and was there for just three years and now it is Jeff Scott that has to make a move. He has gone 3-18 in his first two seasons and entering 2022, there are no excuses as 19 starters are back from a 2-10 team with the only FBS win coming against Temple. Will experience pay off and turn the Bulls around or is the roster just that bad? We are about to find out. OffenseThere was no consistency on offense as the Bulls got on little runs only to bottom out. They scored 31 and 34 points and then put up 14 points. They scored 42 and 28 points and then back-to-back games of 14 and 13 points. Almost everyone is back from the offense that finished No. 102 in total offense and No. 99 in scoring offense and help is on the way at the most important position. Former Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon will step into the starting role for Timmy McClain who could not get the offense rolling. Bohanon threw for 2,200 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while also rushing for 323 yards and nine touchdowns so he could be the sparkplug they need. The top three receivers are back as are the top two running backs so Bohanon has options and a lot of the success will come down to the offensive line that has all five starters back and is deep. DefenseThere were positive signs for the offense at times but there were very few encouraging moments for the defense that allowed fewer than 29 points only twice against FBS opposition. Overall, the Bulls were No. 124 in total defense and No. 117 in scoring defense and there is plenty of experience back to improve in all areas. They were lit up on the ground and through the air and getting into the offensive backfield will help cure that. The secondary was put on an island most of the time and they finished No. 118 in passing efficiency defense and while a lot of that was bad coverage, they had no pass rush help as South Florida was dead last in the country with nine sacks. Be disruptive is the goal and there are pieces in place to do so. The linebackers are the strength as Antonio Grier and Dwayne Boyles both return after combining for 159 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. 2022 Season OutlookGive the program credit as they do not shy away from scheduling tough nonconference games as opposed to some teams wanting to pad their records and stats. They lost to NC State, Florida and BYU by a combined 122-47 and they have a similar setup this year which can toughen them up early or send them spiraling before conference play begins and this is where the coaching needs to emerge as they cannot lose the team a third into the season like last year as there was no recovery. This season, it is Louisville, Florida and BYU and while all are likely losses, being more competitive is just as important. The conference schedule is not much easier as the home portion features three teams projected for 6 or more wins and they have to travel to Cincinnati and Houston. The O/U win total is 4.5 and it looks like a no play with all of the experience negated with a brutal schedule. 

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2022 South Carolina Gamecocks Preview

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

South Carolina Gamecocks2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (3-5 SEC East) - 6-6-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 5OverviewIt has been a rough few years for South Carolina football since former head coach Steve Spurrier had them rolling with three consecutive 11-2 finishes in 2011-2013 and three final top ten rankings. He slipped the final year and a half he was there and Will Muschamp came into a good situation but could not sustain a winning culture. Since that three-year run, the Gamecocks have gone 45-54 with just three winning seasons at 7-6 but one of those was last season under first year head coach Shane Beamer as they secured a bowl bid with an impressive win over Auburn in the second to last game of the season and then took North Carolina to the woodshed in their bowl game. South Carolina has some solid momentum going into this season along with a returning production ranking of No. 36 as well as bringing in a slew of top transfers that will make some noise right away. OffenseThe offense has slipped over the last four seasons with no semblance of a passing game over the last three but that should change this season. The Gamecocks finished No. 116 in total offense and No. 109 in scoring offense as they had a handful of really good games but a bunch of duds as well and they will need to become more consistent which starts at quarterback. They finished No. 74 in passing efficiency offense behind three quarterbacks, none of which could take charge. Enter Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler who was great for the Sooners before losing his job where he went 15-2 as a starter and was First-Team All-Big 12 in 2020. There is plenty of depth at receiver and a wild card could be Antwane Wells who is coming in from James Madison. The running game should be better with an improved passing game along with an offensive line that returns four starters. DefenseThe success last season can be attributed to a defense that got a ton better from the previous season as they improved by nearly 100 ypg and 12 ppg. The Gamecocks finished No. 44 in total defense and No. 47 in scoring defense and they had only three bad games all season and all on the road at Georgia, Tennessee and Texas A&M. They did lose some starters and have a returning production defensive ranking of No. 76 but they should be just fine. The secondary led the way last season and should do so again behind safeties R.J. Roderick and newcomer Devonni Reed to go along with corner Cam Smith to form a very experienced unit. There was very little pass rush last season as South Carolina had just 26 sacks which was No. 78 in the country and there is enough coming back, especially at linebacker, and incoming transfer help for the front six to get a bigger push. 2022 Season OutlookIt is never easy for a middle of the road SEC team to make a big jump and compete with the likes of Alabama and Georgia and that is what South Carolina has endured over the last few seasons. They have been blown out by Georgia in six of the last seven years and have faced Alabama only once over the last decade and miss them again this season and that is something it has to take advantage of. The problem is there are numerous SEC teams on the upswing and the Gamecocks face a lot of them this season. Besides Clemson to end the season, the nonconference slate is not bad but the SEC position is brutal and facing Arkansas and Georgia in the first two games is not ideal. They also have Florida and Kentucky on the road and Tennessee and Texas A&M at home. The O/U win total is set at 6 and the only way to get there is with one or two upsets but this roster is capable of that. 

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2022 South Alabama Jaguars Preview

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

South Alabama Jaguars2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (2-6 SBC West) - 5-7-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 8OverviewSouth Alabama football has been around for a decade and has yet to produce a winning record but it has been close with five seasons of five or six wins. This includes last season when the Jaguars opened 3-0 and were 5-3 heading into the final third of the season but the schedule was totally against them with three straight road games and a finale against Coastal Carolina and they lost them all. The defense that was so good all season had no chance in the final two games, allowing 1,052 yards and with an offense that was light years behind, there was no chance. Head coach Kane Wommack got the most out of his team last season in his first year at the helm and he now has to regroup the troops from that finish and should have no problem doing so with 16 starters returning and with his defensive background, that side should once again be the driving force for success. OffenseThe offense had some great efforts last season during those first eight games as the Jaguars scored 31 or more points five times but managed a total of just 66 points over the final four games with two of those losses coming by one possession so better efforts could have had them bowling. They finished No. 92 in total offense and No. 90 in scoring offense and they are in need of a better running game that has fallen flat the last two seasons. The top three running backs all averaged fewer than 4.0 ypc and it will be up to Terrion Avery who led the group with 508 yards to make a big leap. He can do so behind an offensive line that should finally be a strength with four starters back. Quarterback Desmond Trotter played the backup role last season after a decent 2020 season and his experience can get the offense moving. The top receiver is gone to the NFL but there is a lot of depth. DefenseAs mentioned, the South Alabama defense was as good as it gets for a young unit through the first two-thirds of the season but wore out late yet should be better, and longer lasting, this time around. The Jaguars defense improved by 80 ypg from 2020 but scoring remained level and that will need to be better as they finished No. 43 in total defense but just No. 69 in points allowed. Eight starters are back on this side of the ball as well and returning are three of the top four tacklers including both safeties to lead a strong secondary. Keith Gallmon and Yam Banks combined for 108 tackles while corner Darrell Luter, Jr. is also back after leading the team with four interceptions. The defensive line is also loaded with experience and finished last season ranked No. 41 in sacks. A.J. DeShazor heads a linebacking corps that will also be solid after he led the team with 64 tackles. 2022 Season OutlookSouth Alabama is in great position to turn this into a special season as they are one of only a few teams in the SBC that are not going through some sort of rebuild and the majority of the ones that are not, they do not even play this year. Wommack is a solid young coach with great upside and he can turn the implosion from the end of last year into a positive. The schedule sets up pretty well for the Jaguars with not many roadblocks along the way. The nonconference slate is not horrible with home games against Nicholls St. and Louisiana Tech and road games at Central Michigan and UCLA so a 2-2 record is a win. They open SBC play at favorite Louisiana-Lafayette but it is tame after that as they miss Appalachian St., Coastal Carolina and Georgia St. from the East Division. The O/U win total is 4.5 and they can hit the over early without being forced to win late like last season. 

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2022 SMU Mustangs Preview

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

SMU Mustangs2021-22 Season Record 8-4 (4-4 American) - 6-6-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 7OverviewIt was another winning season for SMU, its third straight under head coach Sonny Dykes, which is the first time that has occurred since the early 1980s. The reward for the Mustangs was getting a second consecutive bowl game cancelled because of COVID which happened to come after the announcement that Dykes was leaving to take over the coaching job at TCU. The program is in a good place right now and with Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida leaving the AAC after this season, SMU has a chance to take over the reins and can prove a point this season. Rhett Lashlee has been hired as the new head coach after a two-year stint as the Miami Fla. offensive coordinator which came after two years at the same position with the Mustangs so he knows the program which is a great starting point. A No. 19 ranking in returning production also helps with balance on both sides. OffenseThe Mustangs had potent offenses in all four years under Dykes and that will not change with Lashlee in charge. They finished No. 13 in total offense and No. 10 in scoring offense with pretty similar numbers from the previous two seasons and there is a lot to like with another go around. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai was great last season as he completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,628 yards with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The picks are a concern but when you are slinging it as much as he does, it is bound to happen. Only one of his top receivers is back as Rashee Rice had 670 yards and nine touchdowns and will be surrounded by great incoming transfers. The running game has not been a focal point but they have a good one in Tre Siggers who had 727 yards and nine scores and he will be running behind a great offensive line that also pass protects well. DefenseThe defense has played second fiddle to the offense the last few years but the unit has improved its yardage and scoring averages each of the last three years and that should continue this season as well. The Mustangs were No. 95 in total defense and No. 86 in scoring defense which is not great but they did not have to be although it would help. The offense scored 37 and 31 points in two losses so any semblance of a defense could have turned those into wins and that is the hope now. Two starters are back on the defensive line that accounted for nine sacks and was very solid against the run. Jimmy Phillips. Jr. and Turner Coxe headline a strong linebacking corps as the two combined for 96 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles and transfers will fill in the rest. The secondary allowed way too many yards and did not have enough takeaways and both will have to and should change. 2022 Season OutlookOne thing was constant last season which was SMU took care of the teams they were supposed to but failed to beat some of the stiffer competition, namely Cincinnati and Houston but will have another crack at them this season. Lashlee has bumped around at six different programs as offensive coordinator since 2011 so while there was no stability, he learned a lot from a bunch of different coaches which will help him in his first head coaching gig. SMU opens at North Texas then hosts Lamar before a trip to Maryland followed by the return of Dykes and his TCU team. AAC action opens with a tough test at Central Florida with the other three road games not too bad. The highlight of the slate is Cincinnati and Houston both coming to Dallas. The O/U win total is set at 7 and right now we can foresee an 8-4 record once again and could be better with a win in one of those two big home AAC games. 

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2022 San Jose St. Spartans Preview

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

San Jose St. Spartans2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 MWC West) - 5-7-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewSan Jose St. has made strides, albeit baby steps, under head coach Brent Brennan as he accepted the job at a program that was going nowhere and had very little in the tank when he arrived. He went 3-22 in his first two seasons and then was win one away from bowl eligibility in 2019 but lost to UNLV in the second to last game of the season. The COVID shortened 2020 season provided a perfect 7-0 season including a MWC Conference championship, insert asterisk here, before losing to Ball St. in the Arizona Bowl and then they were a win away from the postseason again last season but lost their last three games. Now they know what pressure feels like instead of being a laughing stock and will look to build on this little mini run with the most victories in three straight seasons since 2012-2014. They have great experience and had their best recruiting class in many years. OffenseThe offense was bad last season as the Spartans scored more than 27 points only once against an FBS team while scoring 17 points or fewer seven times. The offense regressed by close to 10 ppg and over 90 ypg as they finished No. 107 in total offense and No. 117 in scoring offense which was a killer as it possessed a very strong defense. The quarterback play was inconsistent as Nick Starkel and Nick Nash split time and had trouble completing passes at a combined 52 percent but help is on the way in Hawaii transfer Chevan Cordeiro where he had a solid career, throwing for 6,167 yards and 45 touchdowns. He has plenty of weapons to work with as San Jose St. has its top four receivers back that had 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns. The offensive line will be very good with three veterans getting assistance from two transfers yet help is needed in the backfield but Corderio can run as well. DefenseThe Spartans have had two straight solid seasons on defense after not being able to stop anyone for a long time as last season, they finished No. 57 in total defense and No. 71 in scoring defense, not great but good enough to keep them in games. They will be better and more help from the offense could really get things going by keeping the unit off the field for longer stretches. The rushing defense was the strength as they allowed just 135.2 ypg on 3.6 ypc which was good for No. 41 in the nation and the entire defensive line is back. Ends Cade Hall and Villami Fehoko are both back after combining for 77 tackles and 11 sacks and both will be disruptive again. The linebacking corps is also a strength with three starters back led by Kyle Harmon, who had a team-high 134 tackles. The secondary was the weakness where they were No. 79 in passing defense but are more experienced. 2022 Season OutlookWhile a 20-37 record is hardly impressive, the job is secure for Brennan as long as nothing detrimental occurs. Being on the cusp of a bowl game for three straight seasons does not happen around here very often but now it is looking like it will happen in four straight seasons but San Jose St. has to make sure if takes care of the games it is supposed to. The nonconference slate looks good with games against Portland St., Western Michigan and New Mexico St. that it should win as well as a road game at Auburn. The MWC slate is tough though as the difficult games are on the road at Fresno St., San Diego St. and Utah St. but those teams can no longer look past the Spartans. They miss Boise St. and Air Force all together from the Mountain Division. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 which is unheard of in these parts but it is appropriate as on paper, there are seven wins with possible upsets as well.   

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2022 San Diego St. Aztecs Preview

Monday, Aug 08, 2022

San Diego St. Aztecs2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (7-1 MWC West) - 7-6-1 ATS - 7-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 7OverviewWhen it entered the MWC in 1999, San Diego St. was coming off a bowl appearance in its last season in the WAC and things did not go well as the Aztecs went 11 straight seasons without a winning record under the eyes of Ted Tollner, Tom Craft and Chuck Long for 10 of those and then Brady Hoke came onto the scene. He had a 4-8 record in his first season but then went 9-4 before bolting to Michigan. That led to the start of 10 straight bowl games before 2020 when COVID messed it up in his first season back but he got things back on track with a 12-2 mark last season to make the Aztecs a conference power once again. They finished No. 25 in the country, just the third time they finished ranked in the 53 seasons of the program so expectations are high but San Diego St. has a test in front of it this season with just 12 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 115. OffenseThe offense did just enough to back up a strong defense as it won six games by one possession where it averaged just 23.3 ppg in those victories. The bad news is that only five starters are back but the way that the Aztecs play, it will not be as big of a deal as it could be with a lot of other teams. The passing game was not good with a pair of signal callers taking snaps so there was no rhythm. Taking over at quarterback will be Braxton Burmeister who transferred in from Virginia Tech where he was ok, was not asked to do a lot and took care of the football which are all San Diego St. traits for the position. Top receiver Jesse Matthews returns after 672 yards and nine touchdowns last season and transfers came in to help. The loss of running back Greg Bell is huge but there was depth so they will be fine running behind an offensive line that might take some time to come together. DefenseThe defense took a small step backwards but it was not significant as the rushing defense was as stout as ever. Overall, the Aztecs were No. 14 in total defense including No. 2 against the run, and No. 17 in scoring defense and there should be no regression this season. The defensive line will be strong again even though Cameron Thomas, who led the team with 10.5 sacks, is now with the Arizona Cardinals, as Jonah Tavia is a great edge rusher who had 8.5 sacks and will lead the front and also returning on the other side is Keshawn Banks who had five sacks. Middle linebacker Caden McDonald is the captain of the defense and had 49 tackles along with 3.5 sacks while Michael Shawcroft is on one end after 55 tackles last season. The secondary is led by safety Patrick McMorris who had a team high 90 tackles and while the corners are very young, there is plenty of depth on the outside. 2022 Season OutlookThe Aztecs recorded the most victories in program history last season but they did catch a bad break in the MWC Championship game as a slew of players were missing because of COVID so they were relegated to the Frisco Bowl instead of having the opportunity to play in a bigger bowl game. Still, it was a great second season for Hoke and the goals are unlimited this season if the offense can muster a little more production. San Diego St. opens the season with home games against Arizona and Idaho St. before it travels to Utah in what should be a great matchup. Nonconference play concludes with a home game against Toledo before it opens MWC action at Boise St. which could be an early preview of the MWC Championship. A game at Fresno St. will play a big part as well. The O/U Win total is set at 7.5 which is attainable with what looks like eight wins on paper and four swing games that could go either way. 

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2022 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview

Sunday, Aug 07, 2022

Rutgers Scarlet Knights2021-22 Season Record 5-8 (2-7 Big Ten East) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewIt might take some time to jog the memory but Rutgers used to be a pretty good football team back in the latter days of the Big East Conference. Seven bowl games in eight years from 2005-2012 and then another bowl game in its one year in the AAC and then another the following year in its first season in the Big Ten. And it has now come to a crashing halt. The Scarlet Knights have generated seven straight losing seasons including the last two under head coach Greg Schiano who is on his second tour in Piscataway but they were able to play in a bowl game last season as they were a substitute for Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl. It provided some extra practice time as it gears up for another brutal Big Ten schedule where it has been a punching bag with no more than three conference wins since joining in 2014. With just 12 starters back after having 21 last season, it will take a big effort to make any sort of move. OffenseThe offense has been one of the worst over the last few seasons and last year was no exception as the Scarlet Knights were No. 118 in total offense and No. 113 in scoring offense and there really is no end in sight. The running game has been consistent but not in a good way as they have averaged between 134 and 138 ypg over the last three seasons and when your leading returning rusher is the quarterback, you know there are issues. Isaih Pacheco led the team with 647 yards but he is gone and the main guy will be Kyle Monangai but he has to be better than his 3.8 ypc to make an impact. Quarterback Noah Vedral was not a threat with his 297 yards on 3.0 ypc and he needs to step up his passing game after a mere 1,854 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top two receivers are gone and will be working behind an offensive line that has only two starters back. DefenseDefensively, the Scarlet Knights improved by 54 ypg from 2020 but it was hardly good enough to carry the anemic offense as it finished No. 79 in total defense and No. 52 in scoring defense. After allowing only 34 points in the first three games of the season, the Big Ten opposing offenses were just too much and the schedule sets up similar this season. Six starters are back with a poor returning production ranking of No. 90 so it is an uphill battle on this side of the ball as well. Rutgers plays five in the secondary and this is its strength coming into the season with four seniors leading the way including safeties Avery Young and Christian Izien that combined for 151 tackles. The defensive line needs more of a pass rush to help the secondary even more but it is young and needs a strong start. Both linebackers are gone and will be replaced by Deion Jennings and Tyreem Powell who had only 20 tackles last season. 2022 Season OutlookPlaying in the Big Ten East Division is a bad draw for Rutgers having to play Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St. every year where it has gone 2-32 against them since joining the conference. We can likely chalk up four more losses again this season so it is going to take a huge effort to get close to bowl eligibility but Schiano has pulled off good things in the past yet it is hard to foresee it. Rutgers started 3-0 last season it could repeat that with games against Boston College and Temple on the road surrounded by a home game against Wagner. Then comes the conference schedule where not only the Scarlet Knights have those brutal four games but also have Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Maryland, all projected for at least six wins. The O/U win total is set at four and with a home game against Indiana, it should get there. Anything more will be a very tough ask. 

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2022 Rice Owls Preview

Sunday, Aug 07, 2022

Rice Owls2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-5 C-USA West) - 3-9-0 ATS - 9-3-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewRice has not had a winning season since 2014 which was its third straight under head coach David Bailiff and it was also the first time in program history that it went to three straight bowl games. Unfortunately, he could not keep the momentum rolling as he went 9-27 over the next three seasons before he was replaced by Mike Bloomgren who was the offensive coordinator at Stanford for five seasons. It has not been a good start as he is 11-31 in four years and while last year was the best of the bunch with a 4-8 record, it was a bad 4-8 with the three FBS wins coming by six points or less and six of the losses coming by double-digits. The seat is officially hot for Bloomgren who has seen increased production by the offense in each of the last three years but the defense took a nosedive last season and pieces are here to improve and a bowl game is imperative for job security. OffenseEven though the offense had its best season since 2018, it was still not good as the Owls were No. 96 in total offense and No. 106 in scoring offense and it did not help having to play Arkansas, Houston and Texas in their first three games where they managed a total of 24 points. The good news is that the second half of the season was a lot better as they averaged 27 ppg over their final six games and can carry that positive momentum into this season. The quarterback situation was a mess as four different players had at least 20 passing attempts and they finished with a 16:15 TD:INT ratio. The likely starter is Wiley Green who has seen limited action but has been in the system for five years. Leading rusher Ali Broussard returns but the leading receiver is gone and transfers will be key there. The offensive line has three starters back and needs to be better in run blocking. DefenseThe defense was lit up on too many occasions and ended up finishing No. 108 overall and No. 121 in points allowed and this was with 10 returning starters so visions were high. Instead they allowed 93 more ypg than the previous season and things were so bad that those starters were yanked numerous times which means a lot of younger players got some valuable time which will help out this year. The defensive line lost its best player but this will still be the strength of the defense that will be led on one end by Ikenna Enechukwu who had 49 tackles and tied for sacks leader with 4.5. On the other side is Trey Schuman who has 39 tackles and three sacks. The linebacking corps took the big hit with the two main guys transferring out but the four projected starters have great experience. Safety Gabe Taylor will anchor the secondary after leading the team with 44 solo tackles but the corners are young.  2022 Season OutlookRice is the Duke further out west as it is one of the best learning institutions in the country which makes it tough to get to recruits as evidenced by their No. 119 recruiting class in 2022. The future is now with 11 projected starters being sophomores which means a successful season this year can springboard the Owls for the next couple years into something really good. But they cannot look ahead and the start is not easy with two nonconference games at USC and Houston sandwiched around a pair of home games against McNeese St. and Louisiana-Lafayette. The C-USA schedule is not horrible as three of the tougher games are at home against UAB, UTEP and UTSA with the other big test on the road at Western Kentucky. The O/U win total is set at 3.5 and that is a very gettable number if it can produce a .500 record at home because there are stealable wins on the road. 

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2022 Purdue Boilermakers Preview

Saturday, Aug 06, 2022

Purdue Boilermakers2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-3 Big Ten West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewFormer head coach Joe Tiller got Purdue back on the map for the first time in about two decades, albeit a small map, as he took the Boilermakers to bowl games in 10 of his 12 seasons. He never got them to make a big leap in the Big Ten however as his cap was nine wins three times and after he left, the Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell experiments never took and Jeff Brohm took over in 2017 and led them to two straight bowl games. 2019 was a blip with just 12 starters back resulting in a 3-9 record and 2020 was COVID laced at 2-4 but last season was the breakthrough Purdue fans have been waiting for as it finished 9-4 that included quality wins over Iowa, Michigan St. and Tennessee and the four losses against teams with nine or more wins. 15 starters are back along with a No. 37 ranked recruiting class means Purdue could be here to stay now and for the foreseeable future. OffenseThe running game was offensive once again as it averaged 84.2 ypg which was No. 127 in the country, the third straight season the Boilermakers have averaged fewer than 85 ypg on the ground. Sure, attempts have been low but the ypc average testifies that it has been bad and needs to improve to get the offense really rolling as any semblance of balance helps. King Doerue is back after leading the team with 533 yards on 4.0 ypc and any more pop would be helpful. Quarterback Aiden O'Connell was outstanding in his first year as the full time starter as he threw for 3,712 yards with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing over 72 percent of his passes. The bad news is he lost his top three targets but a veteran quarterback can make it work with younger wideouts and he does have an experienced tight end. The offensive line has to simply open more holes and should improve. DefenseThe Purdue defense has typically been a sieve but it has improved in each of the last four seasons yardage-wise and last year was No. 48 in total defense and No. 34 in scoring defense and it was actually better than that as those rankings are inflated because of the bowl game. The Boilermakers were solid in both areas and with eight starters back, they should once again improve. The defensive line has three of those starters back but the one loss is a big one in end George Karlaftis who tied for the team lead in sacks with five but his counterpart Kydran Jenkins who also had five sacks is back. The linebackers also took a hit with leading tackler Jaylan Alexander on the Chicago Bears roster but Kieren Douglas comes back after having 67 tackles and is ready to lead the unit. Cory Trice, who played just two games, is back after injury and solidifies the corners while Cam Allen is a potential star at safety. 2022 Season OutlookBrohm did not have the career as expected when he was the quarterback at Louisville but had a solid senior season and played in the NFL and has led quarterbacks throughout his coaching carrier prior to here so he knows how to get the best out of O'Connell with the receiver limitations. He flourished at Western Kentucky with a 30-10 record and has things going the right way here. The schedule is a tough one to decipher as there is a lot of good but some not so good. The Boilermakers open against Penn St. at home and this could be a real statement game. The nonconference schedule is tame but the rest of the Big Ten slate consists of five road games and just three at home. But no Ohio St., Michigan or Michigan St. anywhere to be found. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 and this one looks good for the over with Wisconsin and Iowa being swing games back-to-back but with a bye in-between.  

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2022 Pittsburgh Panthers Preview

Saturday, Aug 06, 2022

Pittsburgh Panthers2021-22 Season Record 11-3 (7-1 ACC Coastal) - 10-4-0 ATS - 8-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 7OverviewLast year was supposed to be a special season for Pittsburgh and in some regards in was as the Panthers had their most wins since 1981, recorded their most victories ever in the ACC and won the ACC Championship. But with Heisman hopeful Kenny Pickett at quarterback, it was supposed to something really special as it was oh so close to being that as losses against Western Michigan and Miami Fla., both as big favorites, were by a combined seven points and Pittsburgh never got ranked higher than No. 13 in the AP Poll which was where it finished. Head coach Pat Narduzzi is in his eighth season and has compiled a 53-37 record with only one losing season so he is building something long term here with a highly anticipated 2022 season and while it should come in ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2010, but it will not, and that will provide some added motivation. OffenseThe offense did what it had to do with Pickett leading the way as the Panthers finished No. 5 in total offense, including No. 6 in passing, and No. 3 in scoring offense. Their worst offensive game was against Michigan St. in the Peach Bowl where Pickett elected to sit out and as far as the quarterback situation goes, Pittsburgh should be just fine. Kedon Slovis transferred in from USC and he has game as he was the Pac 12 Freshman of the Year in 2019 and was First Team All Pac 12 in 2020 and while he struggled last season, a new surrounding will help. The Panthers lost top receiver Jordan Addison but they will be fine with Jared Wayne who had 658 yards and Akron transfer Konata Mumpfield who had 751 yards on an awful team. The offensive line brings back all five starters so pass protection will be outstanding and the top three running backs which combined for 1,749 all return. DefenseBecause the offense was so prolific, the defense did not get the praise it deserved as the Panthers were No. 39 overall and No. 43 in points allowed. The disparity between the passing and rushing defense is skewed based on teams needing to pass more in playing catch up. The defensive front was a wall that allowed 100 rushing yards or fewer nine times and was all over the opposing backfield as it finished with 54 sacks which was No. 3 in the country and most of those sacks are back. This unit level will be the strength once again. The linebacking corps suffered the most with two starters lost but returning is SirVocea Dennis who led the team with 87 tackles but there could be some growing pains around him. The secondary is loaded with safeties Brandon Hill and Erick Hallett combining for 151 tackles to go along with senior corners Marquis Williams and A.J. Woods who had 61 tackles combined. 2022 Season OutlookSome will expect a drop off from last season and it is hard not to predict that coming off 11 wins but this team is absolutely stacked all over the place. The returning production is greater than last season and Slovis is not a downgrade from Pickett based on what he has already accomplished which is something Pickett never achieved. The only thing standing in the way is the schedule. Early on, there should be little trouble as five of the first six games are at home with Tennessee being a possible roadblock and the one road game is at Western Michigan in a revenge game. Then it gets tough. Four ACC road games feature teams all projected to win 6.5 or more games but the overall good news is that there is no Clemson or Wake Forest on the slate. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and foreseeing a 7-0 home record and a win against the Broncos, all it takes is one win in those four ACC road games.  

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2022 Penn St. Nittany Lions Preview

Saturday, Aug 06, 2022

Penn St. Nittany Lions2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-5 Big Ten East) - 7-6-0 ATS - 3-10-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 4OverviewPenn St. got off to a 5-0 start last season and after opening the season as preseason No. 19 in the AP Poll, it jumped up to No. 4 and then the wheels fell off. The Nittany Lions went 2-6 the rest of the way, with the wins coming against Maryland and Rutgers, including closing with a dud against Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. To their credit, four of those losses came by a combined 12 points and head coach James Franklin signed a massive contract extension in late November showing he is fully vested in turning things around after going 14-13 over their last 27 games going back to the end of the 2019 season. It is never an easy fix, especially in this conference with so many dangerous teams this upcoming season but Penn St. brings in the No. 6 recruiting class in the country so with just 11 starters back, young players will have to step up and it might take a year to get the groove back. OffensePenn St. typically revolves its offense around a strong rushing attack but last season that was non-existent as it was No. 118 in rushing offense, averaging only 106.4 ypg on 3.2 ypc and that will be the focal point to improve this season. Keyvone Lee was the leading rusher with just 495 yards but he averaged 4.8 ypc so he can bust out for a big season if the offensive line comes together and that is a big if. Only two starters are back and they will be mixing in some transfers and young players but there is depth yet it might take time to come together in finding the right rotation. Quarterback Sean Clifford is back after throwing for 3,107 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions and those solid numbers should get better as he knows this system in and out. Filling the void of receiver Jahan Dotson will be Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith who combined for 1,341 yards. DefenseThe defense held its own which kept the Nittany Lions in the games they lost as they finished No. 35 in total defense and No. 7 in scoring defense, yielding just 16.8 ppg but there is plenty of work to be done to replicate that. The Nittany Lions were solid against both the run and the pass and the main area of concern will be up front. Their sack leader is gone and the pass rush was not great to begin with as they had only 27 sacks and their 2.1 sack per game average was tied for No. 74 in the country. They are going to rely on a pair of prized freshmen to get their feet wet early and help disrupt the backfield. The linebacking corps loses their top two tacklers that combined for 148 stops but Curtis Jacobs steps in after 61 tackles last season with depth around him. The secondary is the strength with potential All Big Ten starters at corner and safety with Joey Porter and Ji'Ayir Brown respectively. 2022 Season OutlookAfter going 42-11 from 2016-2019, it will be interesting how Penn St. handles a little bit of adversity even though it is projected to have a very good season and will likely be ranked in the preseason top 25. This is partly due to reputation and a great bunch of recruits that will see a lot of time. The schedule has its good and bad but it is in their favor for the most part as the Nittany Lions have seven home games and no back-to-back road games. Two of the first three games are on the road at Purdue and Auburn, two very early tests. They get Central Michigan and Northwestern at home and then travel to Michigan. The remainder of the Big Ten slate is encouraging with the three toughest games against Minnesota, Ohio St. and Michigan St. all at home. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and that does seen aggressive as even though the schedule in on their side, it is littered with dangerous games. 

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2022 Oregon St. Beavers Preview

Friday, Aug 05, 2022

Oregon St. Beavers2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-4 Pac 12 North) - 7-6-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewOregon St. had a great run from 1999 to 2013 as in those 15 seasons, it had a winning record 11 times which included a 7-4 record in bowl games with a Fiesta Bowl win and a final ranking of No. 4 in that 1999 season. Head coaches Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley both kept the program in great shape but then it fell off, bad. Gary Andersen went 7-23 in two and a half years, Cory Hall went 0-6 as the interim coach and then Jonathan Smith came on board in 2018 and promptly went 2-10. It has been a slow ascent since then however with a 5-7 record the next season followed by a who cares COVID year and then the Beavers went 7-6 last season and the first bowl game in eight years. Smith has this team going in the right direction and this season, it has 14 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 39 so expectations are somewhat high for the first time in a while. OffenseThe offense has remained very steady over the last few years as the Beavers have been above average and last year they finished No. 40 in total offense and No. 35 in scoring offense. There were a couple bad efforts but for the most part, they were consistent thanks to a strong running game and solid play at quarterback. Chance Nolan did not put up big numbers but he did what was asked as he completed over 64 percent of his passes for 2,677 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He should improve this season especially behind a strong offensive line that has three starters back after finishing No. 8 in the country in sacks allowed. Three of the top five targets are gone including leading receiver Trevon Bradford but there is good experience and depth. Replacing running back B.J. Baylor, who rushed for 1,337 yards, will be a challenge but there are options to work with.  DefenseIt was not a great season for the defense as the Beavers finished No. 75 overall and No. 64 in scoring but they will take it. The 388.0 ypg allowed was a 55 ypg improvement from the previous two seasons and a whopping 149 ypg better from 2018. The pieces are in place for an even better season as eight starters are back with playmakers on two levels. The defensive line is the early concern as there is experience up front but no one that has proven to be dominating. They had only 20 sacks last season which was tied for No. 109 and they desperately need to find a pass rush. Oregon St. lost its leading tackler in linebacker Avery Roberts but Omar Speights was second on the team with 87 tackles and will handle the inside with transfers on the outside. The secondary is in great shape with two solid corners along with Kitan Oladapo and Alton Julian as the safeties after combining for 103 tackles. 2022 Season OutlookThere is definitely a buzz in Corvallis this season and there should be. A 7-6 record is nothing special but steps were taken and Oregon St. just needs to figure out how to win on the road. Sure, there was a signature win at USC last season but it lost its other five roadies and is just 5-32 on the highway over the last seven seasons. Improving that will be a challenge but there are winnable games and only four conference road games. The Beavers open at home with big test against Boise St. and then travel to Fresno St. before closing nonconference play against FCS power Montana St. The winnable Pac 12 road games are at Arizona St. and Stanford with Washington a possibility. The home portion includes USC and Oregon so another undefeated home slate is unlikely.  The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and it is gettable but it will take an upset or two and it has won five of its last eight outright as dogs.

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2022 Oregon Ducks Preview

Thursday, Aug 04, 2022

Oregon Ducks2021-22 Season Record 10-4 (7-2 Pac 12 North) - 5-9-0 ATS - 7-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewOregon has been really good for a really long time but is still after that elusive National Championship. Mike Bellotti took over the program in 1995 and put together 13 winning seasons in his 14 years as head coach and got them to as high as No. 2 at the end of the 2001 season. Chip Kelly took over and went 46-7 in his four seasons including a loss in the BCS Championship in 2010 and he gave way to Mark Helfrich who did not miss a beat in his first two years, including another championship loss but he was gone two years later. The Ducks have taken a small step back since then and after Mario Cristobal left for Miami this season, Dan Lanning takes over after three strong years as the Georgia defensive coordinator and inherits a great situation with 15 returning starters in what looks to be another Pac 12 up for grabs. It is theirs to lose with Utah as top to bottom, the Ducks are the best of the bunch. OffenseThe offense has kind of been stuck in neutral over the last few years and last season, the Ducks were No. 54 in total offense and No. 45 in scoring offense. They had a great running game but were unable to get the ball downfield on a consistent basis as Anthony Brown threw for 2,989 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions, certainly good but not outstanding. He has moved on and in comes Bo Nix from Auburn, one of the big transfers in the offseason to get a spark going in the offense. He had his moments with the Tigers but was inconsistent at times and a change should do him good. The top receiver from last season is gone but solid transfers will surround him and his running ability helps. The offensive line is the best in the conference and will give him great protection as well as establishing new top running back Byron Cardwell who ran for just 417 yards but at a 6.8 ypc clip. DefenseThis is where it can become really exciting for Oregon as its defenses never stole the show but this one has the potential to do so. The Ducks were No. 56 in total defense and No. 60 in scoring defense and with Lanning taking over, this is the unit that will have a huge upside. Add in defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi who spent a lot of time at Alabama and coming off three years in the NFL and we might have something special in store. His strength is with linebackers and he has them here as Noah Sewell has accumulated 162 tackles the last two seasons and will be joined by Justin Flowe who has massive potential after playing just one game last season. The defensive line has to replace Kayvon Thibodeaux but it is experienced and both big and quick to cause disruptions. The secondary is the weakness of the defense as they are young and inexperienced inside so safety help has to emerge. 2022 Season OutlookOregon has been ranked in the preseason in 13 of the last 14 years with six of those claiming a top ten spot and they will be on the cusp of that this season. It was another top 15 recruiting class, the fifth in a row and for a program that has so many advantages outside the football field, Oregon can flourish for a long time and Lanning can direct that with his new-school viewpoints. While the Pac 12 as a whole is going through future changes, Oregon has been and will be as steady as they come. The test starts right away with Georgia in Atlanta and Lanning against his former employer. The other roadblocks are all at home with BYU and UCLA and then they face Utah at home in the second to last game of the season which should be a preview of the Pac 12 Championship. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and if the Ducks take care of business at home, it should be another double-digit win season. 

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2022 Old Dominion Monarchs Preview

Thursday, Aug 04, 2022

Old Dominion Monarchs2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (5-3 C-USA East) - 9-4-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 7OverviewAfter going 1-11 in 2019, the lone win coming against Norfolk St. of the FCS by three points, Old Dominion scrapped the entire 2020 season because of the COVID pandemic and not much was expected with just 10 starters returning last season. The Monarchs started 1-6, another FCS victim, but they ran off five straight wins to become bowl eligible and while they did not put up much of a fight against Tulsa in the Myrtle Beach Bowl, it was a huge confidence boost for the program. Since entering the FBS, Old Dominion has gone 37-49, all in C-USA and now it makes the jump to the Sun Belt Conference for another fresh start. That 1-11 season cost head coach Bobby Wilder his job and Ricky Rahne took over and finally got to coach a game last season. There is experience in place with 17 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 30 so the momentum can continue. OffenseThe offense was not great as it was extremely young but it did just enough down the stretch to win a bunch of games when needed. The Monarchs were No. 80 in total offense and No. 68 in scoring offense and that experience and momentum down the stretch should have them ready to make a leap. Quarterback time was split between Hayden Wolff and D.J. Mack, Jr. with Wolff being the main guy and better passer and Mack adding the running option to the offense. That stretch run solidified Wolff as the starter this season and he has two great weapons in wide receiver Ali Jennings III who had 1,066 yards and tight end Zack Kuntz who had 692 yards, both scoring five touchdowns. The running game is potent with Blake Watson after rushing for 1,112 yards and eight scores. They will be protected by an offensive line with four starters back that looks to cut down on sacks. DefenseThe defense was also pretty average but it too came together down the stretch as they allowed 22.2 ppg during that five-game winning streak and overall, the Monarchs finished No. 61 in total defense and No. 80 in scoring defense. There is not a lot of star power but experience pays off and there is a decent amount of that. The defensive line was stout against the run as it finished No. 26 in rushing defense and three starters are back including both inside guys. Losing the No. 1 tackler is never a good thing for a young team as linebacker Jordan Young had 93 stops and signed on with Tampa Bay but all is not lost as Ryan Henry and Jason Henderson are both back after combining for 153 tackles last season. The secondary was lit up pretty bad but again, a year of experience will prove vital as cornerback Tre Hawkins III led the team with 56 solo tackles and the safeties are solid. 2022 Season OutlookExpectations are not high for Old Dominion nor should they be as a 2-17 two and a half year stumble was bailed out by a 5-1 run to close last season and while that push is big, it can only go so far. This is still a young team with learning to do and starting over in a new conference can be a challenge. Rahne did a great job during that 2020 offseason as he brought in talent where it was needed to build a foundation for the present and future. However, the schedule does not set up well for the former as they open with Virginia Tech at home then travel to East Carolina and Virginia. They host their first SBC game against Arkansas St. before Liberty. The three toughest conference games against Coastal Carolina, Georgia St. and Appalachian St. are all on the road. The O/U Win total is set at 4.5 and that is going to be a challenge to get to with such a brutal schedule in the way. 

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2022 Oklahoma St. Cowboys Preview

Thursday, Aug 04, 2022

Oklahoma St. Cowboys2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (8-1 Big 12) - 10-3-1 ATS - 5-8-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 4OverviewOklahoma St. is coming off its best season since 2011 when it went 12-1 and finished No. 3 in the AP Poll as the Cowboys were 12-2 in 2021, the two losses by a combined eight points, and closed the season No. 7 in the rankings. It could have been a really special season as those two defeats could have gone the other way with chances late in both, but the Cowboys have to move on in what should be another solid season but there is work to do. Head coach Mike Gundy has been as consistent as they come as in his 17 years at Oklahoma St., he has put together 16 consecutive winning seasons after a 4-7 first year and has led the Cowboys to an 11-5 bowl record. They got the job done last year with just 13 returning starters and have only 11 coming back this season and the returning production ranking is a rough No. 118 but a cupcake nonconference schedule can get them out fast. OffenseThe offense has regressed in a big way since finishing No. 14 in the country in total offense in 2018 as the Cowboys have ranked No. 17, No. 40 and No. 66 the last three seasons. They scored fewer than 30 points eight times and the hope is quarterback Spencer Sanders can finally come into his own. He was named First Team Big 12 last season despite completing 62 percent of his passes and throwing 12 interceptions and he needs to be more consistent. The receiving corps is loaded despite losing Tay Martin who hauled in 80 passes for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns as seven players return that had at least 100 yards receiving including four with over 200. The Cowboys will also have to move on without leading rusher Jaylen Warren who will be replaced by Dominic Richardson who had just 373 yards. The offensive line will be fine with three starters back that was excellent in pass protection. DefenseThe offense did not have to be great because the defense was as Oklahoma St. finished No. 3 overall and No. 8 in points allowed but there is a ton of turnover heading into 2022. The Cowboys led the nation in sacks with 57 as they got to the opposing quarterback over four times per game but all is not lost as the defensive front will be the strength of the unit. Defensive end Collin Oliver is back after leading the team with 10.5 sacks and he will be joined by Brock Martin and Tyler Lacy who combined for 12.5 sacks. After that, it starts to get a little dicey. Linebacker and leading tackler Malcolm Rodriguez was drafted by the Lions and while there is some depth, someone has to step up in the middle. Another big loss is safety Tanner McCalister but Jason Taylor II can step in as the leader of the secondary that can have success again as long as the Cowboys can sustain that pass rush. 2022 Season OutlookThe defense carried the Cowboys last season and despite two great efforts against Iowa St. and Baylor in losing efforts where they allowed 22.5 ppg and 308.0 ypg, the offense could not pick up the slack as it managed only 37 points total. This season it will be up to the offense to carry the load at least early on until defensive coordinator Derek Mason gets his system and players in place. In what may be considered a down year in the conference, Oklahoma St. has the pieces to make a run. A 3-0 start helps as the Big 12 opener is a big one at Baylor and that could be a make or break game. The remainder of the schedule favors the Cowboys as the majority of the tough games are at home with the exception of a road game at Oklahoma in late November. The O/U win total is set at 8.5 and that seems just about right as an early look sees eight likely wins with the three big ones being the difference. 

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2022 Oklahoma Sooners Preview

Thursday, Aug 04, 2022

Oklahoma Sooners2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (7-2 Big 12) - 6-6-1 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 5OverviewIf there was a season for former head coach Lincoln Riley to jump ship, this is probably the one. It was a very good recruiting year but a lot of unknowns were probably factored into the decision such as returning production into 2022 was low with a ranking of No. 71, just 10 starters were returning and a future move to the SEC. Riley sustained what Bob Stoops put together at the turn of the century and that was a winning culture as he went 55-10 in five seasons, finished ranked in the top ten each year and extended the bowl run to 23 consecutive seasons. Brent Venables has finally gotten his chance after spending the last 10 years as the Clemson defensive coordinator including the last four as assistant head coach and he is walking into a very good, but not ideal situation as there is work to be done as the Sooners will be ranked outside the top ten for the first time since 2015. OffenseThe Sooners were pretty well balanced on offense last season but it has been a regression in each of the last four years and it bottomed out last season with 442.1 ypg which is still very good but that was No. 31 in the nation, well below previous seasons. Both Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler transferred out leaving a big hole at quarterback that will be taken over by Dillon Gabriel who comes over from Central Florida. He will be learning a whole new system under a brand new staff but has Marvin Mims who had 705 yards last season and Theo Wease who had 530 yards in 2020 at his disposal. Leading rusher Kennedy Brooks ran for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns but he has departed and his backup Eric Gray will take over as lead back. The offensive success will have a lot to do with the offensive line that underachieved last season and is basically being retooled throughout. DefenseThe defense regressed slightly from 2020 and the Sooners finished No. 70 in total defense and No. 57 in scoring defense but that should change this season. How much change will depend on a slew of transfers that are coming in to work with just five returning starters. Venables certainly knows defense as does new defensive coordinator Ted Roof but this is his sixth different school in six years and was a defensive assistant under Venables last season. Jalen Redmond and Reggie Grimes bring experience up front as they combined for 5.5 sacks last season but the pass rush needs to make more plays. The linebacking corps took a big hit with leading tackler Brian Asamoah off to the Vikings and sack leader Nik Bonitto off to the Broncos and this unit will be a work in progress. The secondary will also feature plenty of new faces with safety Key Lawrence being the lone notable holdover. 2022 Season OutlookIt will be a different look for the Sooners this season but the offense will continue to push the ball under new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby who led prolific offenses at UCF and Mississippi. The defense could be the deciding factor overall. The Big 12 is wide open this season with the Sooners a slight favorite, closely followed by Texas, Oklahoma St. and Baylor and the schedule is in their favor. Home games against UTEP and Kent St. open the season and then they have a tricky game at formal rival Nebraska before conference play kicks off. There are always hurdles in conference road games but there are no killers on the schedule, Iowa St. being the toughest, and the Sooners get Oklahoma St. and Baylor at home and Texas on a neutral field at the Cotton Bowl. The O/U win total is set at 9.5 which is high for so much turnover at all areas but a tame schedule makes up for that. 

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2022 Ohio St. Buckeyes Preview

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2022

Ohio St. Buckeyes2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (8-1 Big Ten East) - 6-6-1 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewYou know your program is in damn good shape when your returning starters over the last four seasons are 11, 13, 9 and 11 and you still lose only five games. How good can Ohio St. be this season with 14 players coming back including their quarterback? Not counting the COVID season, the Buckeyes have had double-digit win seasons in 15 of the last 16 campaigns, sorry Luke Fickell, yet they have just the one National Championship in 2014 and they have been the bridesmaid two other times. The accolades can go on forever but that gets boring. Head coach Ryan Day has not missed a beat since Urban Meyer departed as he has compiled a 34-4 record in three and a quarter seasons and this is his best team yet. Finishing in the top six every year in his time here is impressive yet that has been commonplace for eight straight seasons but now it is time to take home the big one. OffenseThe Buckeyes could not be stopped last season as they were held to fewer than 500 total yards only four times and finished No. 1 in the country in both total offense and scoring offense and despite just six starters back, they will be just as good. Quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions and still did not win the Heisman but anything close to that and he will likely get the "sympathy" vote this season. He has the best receiver in college football to throw to in Jaxon Smith-Njigba who hauled in 95 passes for 1,606 yards and had the greatest Rose Bowl ever. If that is not enough, running back Treveyon Henderson returns after rushing for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns at a 6.8 ypc clip. The offensive line has future NFL players all around so let us pencil in Ohio St. to have the top ranked offense in the nation once again. DefenseFinishing No. 52 in total defense would be a disaster for most teams striving for a National Championship but the Buckeyes were so good on offense, the defense got penalized for it. They were stout against the run and while the passing defense was ranked No. 98, it was for good reason as the opposition had no choice but to pass. To put it in a little better perspective, they were No. 50 in passing efficiency defense, being a bend but do not break unit. And they are loaded once again with eight starters back consisting of plenty of NFL talent. The big loss up front is defensive tackle Haskell Garrett who led the team in sacks but there is no drop off and this unit is deep. Both linebackers return as Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers combined for 111 tackles. The secondary is anchored by safety Ronnie Hickman who led the team with 98 tackles and both starting corners also return. 2022 Season OutlookIt is hard to fault a team that has been so consistently impressive but come on Ohio St., go play a nonconference game on the road which it has not done since 2015. Top to bottom on both sides, this is probably the most talented team in the country and there is just one goal and that is to bring home a National Championship. Well, there are actually two goals, the other being to rough up Michigan at home in the season finale. First things first, at least the Buckeyes scheduled a power team at home as they open with Notre Dame, the first of five straight home games that includes a tough one against Wisconsin. The two difficult road games are at Michigan St. and Penn St. with a home game against Iowa in-between so that is a tough stretch. The O/U win total is set at 10.5 but at 2-1 odds and it is over or nothing here and while a freak upset could happen, it just does not seen likely. 

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2022 Ohio Bobcats Preview

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2022

Ohio Bobcats2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (3-5 MAC East) - 5-7-0 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 9OverviewOhio football was never a thing. Two bowl games, none since 1968, and the program made a big move and hired Frank Solich in 2005 after being fired at Nebraska despite a 58-19 record. He remained a Bobcat until the end of a 2-1 COVID 2020 season and all he did was give Ohio what great coaches do and that is he put them on the map and they responded. He put together 13 winning seasons in his 15 full years there while taking the Bobcats to 11 bowl games. Current head coach Tim Albin was unable to keep the momentum rolling despite 16 starters back as the Bobcats went 3-9 but it all cannot be put on him as playing just three games the previous season does any team no good moving forward and it showed with an 0-4 start which was unrecoverable. They have one fewer starter back this season but have a ton of experience as they are ranked No. 48 in returning production. OffenseThe offense averaged 34.3 ppg in the three victories but only 18.7 ppg in their nine losses and overall, the Bobcats finished No. 88 in total offense and No. 105 in scoring offense. They did not turn the ball over much, just 15 times, but they were awful on third down, converting at a 36.1 percent clip which was No. 92 in the nation and that has to improve. Quarterback Kurtis Rourke cut his teeth last season after playing just the three games in 2020 and another full season should see him get much better by taking more shots downfield as his accuracy is his strength. His receiving corps is down two of the top three yardage guys from last season so Ty Walton will be his go to after 380 receiving yards last season. The running game was the strength but the two top backs are gone and O'Shaan Allison takes over but has to improve his 3.9 ypc. Three starters are back on the offensive line. DefenseThe defense could not make up for a lack of offense as Ohio was No. 105 in total defense and No. 95 in scoring defense and the unit should be much better with the return of nine starters. While the offense did not give it away, the defense could not take it away as the Bobcats were tied for No. 127 with only eight turnovers gained so clearly that has to increase to at the very least, get them off the field and let the offense do its thing. The biggest improvement has to come up front as they were ranked No. 107 in rushing defense and the pass rush was nonexistent with the exception of Will Evans who is gone. The middle is in great shape as linebackers Bryce Houston and Cannon Blauser both return after combining for 190 tackles. The secondary needs to make more plays on the ball as six interceptions is not going to get it done again but three starters do return in the backfield. 2022 Season OutlookEven though it is only his second season, it is a big one for Albin to see where his team stands. Last year can be chalked up as an aberration but anything close to a repeat will create some buzz and not in a good way. The pieces are in place but the Bobcats cannot withstand another 0-4 start which will not be the case but they are staring at a possible 1-3 record the first third of the season. It all starts with a big home game against Florida Atlantic and a victory there can go a long way. Ohio then has to travel to Penn St. and Iowa St. before closing nonconference action at home against Fordham. The MAC slate opens in their favor against Kent St., Akron and Western Michigan but two of those are on the road. Northern Illinois is at home and Miami Ohio is on the road and Toledo is avoided among the three big guns. The O/U win total is 5.5 and it looks to be a no play either way. 

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2022 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2022

Notre Dame Fighting Irish2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (N/A) - 9-4-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewNotre Dame has had some legendary coaches throughout the history of the program, the last being Lou Holtz who produced the most recent National Championship at South Bend back in 1988 and it took a while after he left for the Irish to back to elite status. Bob Davie, Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis were all given their shots and all came up empty with just one top ten ranking in the 13 years between them and then Notre Dame found their guy. It hired Brian Kelly who turned around Cincinnati and it did not take him long to resurrect the program yet was unable to win the big one and decided to bolt to LSU. Good luck in the SEC. Marcus Freeman was promoted from defensive coordinator to take over and the program could not be happier especially after bringing in the No. 7 ranked recruiting class, something Kelly could not do. His first year will not be easy but there will be no big drop off. OffenseThere was a slight regression on this side of the ball as Notre Dame was No. 51 in total offense last season and the version in 2022 will have a whole different look and hopefully one for the better. Quarterback Jack Coan had a great season with 3,150 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions but he has departed and it will be the Tyler Buchner show and he is a very capable passer and the upside is his ability to run, something that Coan could not do. This is his second year in the system led by offensive coordinator Tommy Rees who has had offers but has remained at least for one more year. The offensive line is the strength which is a great thing with new position players taking over. Running back Chris Tyree had just 222 yards last season and will be the new starter while Lorenzo Styles will be the top receiving threat behind All-American tight end Michael Mayer.  DefenseThe defense also had a slight regression but still finished No. 30 in total defense and was opportunistic at the right times as it finished No. 10 in scoring defense. The expectations are unlimited with Freeman and defensive coordinator Al Golden having an offseason to put a plan in place and with eight starters back, many being NFL caliber talent, there is reason for optimism as every level is loaded with experience. The defensive line will be anchored by Isaiah Foskey who led the team with 10 sacks and five forced fumbles and there will be disruption from the entire front. Leading tackler J.D. Bertrand returns to head a solid linebacking corps that will be all over the field once again. Notre Dame was ranked No. 23 in passing efficiency defense and has both starting corners returning while getting a massive upgrade with safety Brandon Joseph coming over from Northwestern. 2022 Season OutlookNotre Dame was not elite on either side last season but was No. 15 in turnover margin at +9 which played a big role in the 11-2 record and that is something that cannot be counted on going forward. Freeman did not show much in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma St. as the interim coach but who really cares at this point. The Irish have the potential to be great again and will likely be ranked in the top five coming into the season. They will be tested right away with the opener at Ohio St., one of only four true road games on the schedule with North Carolina and USC being a pair of tough assignments. The six-game home schedule features five easy games but is highlighted by Clemson coming to town in November. The O/U win total is 8.5 and with no upsets, there are nine wins on paper with the Ohio St., Clemson and USC games being swingers if there is an upset along the way. 

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2022 Northwestern Wildcats Preview

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2022

Northwestern Wildcats2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten West) - 3-9-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 5OverviewThe 2020 COVID season affected teams differently in many ways and with 19 starters back, Northwestern went for it and played as many games as they could and ended up 7-2 that included a Citrus Bowl win over Auburn. The big reason to not use it as a rebuild was because they knew 2021 would be that rebuilding year with only eight starters back and it showed with a 3-9 record, matching the 2019 team that had only 11 starters return, which are the two worst in the 16 seasons under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Prior to that, it was eight winning campaigns in the previous 11 seasons and the Wildcats hope to get back to that this season but it will not be simple as only 14 starters are back with a roster that is ranked No. 69 in returning production to go along with a brutal schedule. Fitzgerald has pulled out some magic before when no one expected it and will need to do so again.OffenseNeither side of the ball performed well last season, especially the offense as the Wildcats finished No. 115 in total offense and No. 125 in scoring offense and the last two-thirds of the season were a disaster as they scored 14 points or less in seven of their last eight games. The rushing offense was very below average while the passing offense was abysmal so the return of nine starters gives them a positive start if nothing else. Three quarterbacks got their shots and none performed and this season, two of those are gone and Ryan Hilinski will get a second chance after throwing for just 978 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He is behind a very experienced offensive line that has four starters back and his top target will be Malik Washington who hauled in 44 passes for 578 yards. Leading rusher Evan Hull ran for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns and will carry the load early.  DefenseThe defense was not as bad but it was not far behind as Northwestern finished No. 102 in total defense and No. 91 in scoring defense and while the passing defense was above average, opposing teams had no reason to throw the ball as the Wildcats could not stop the run. Only five starters are back with the top guy being linebacker Bryace Gallagher who was second on the team with 90 tackles and will have to be the leader with two new starters on the outside around him. The lone starter back on the defensive line is Adetomiwa Adebawore who led the team with 4.5 sacks from the middle and he will need help with most of the other sack producers having moved on. The secondary is a question mark as the best player is gone and while three starters are back, they have hardly been tested. Northwestern had just 16 takeaways and that will have to improve to alleviate pressure. 2022 Season OutlookWhile it is not exactly looking bleak, it is not looking very promising but as said before, Fitzgerald knows how to get out the best from his players, 2021 notwithstanding. His job is more than safe as he has had five teams finish ranked in the AP Poll over the last ten seasons and while this season is not expected to add to that, stranger things have occurred with this program and a quick start will be necessary. The Wildcats open in Ireland against a vastly improved Nebraska team and then they are back home for three straight against Duke, Southern Illinois and Miami Ohio. The next seven Big Ten games are against teams projected with at least six wins but at least they miss Michigan and Michigan St. from the East. The O/U win total is set at 4 and those look to be four home games, the three mentioned and Illinois being the other to close the season, so it will take some major upsets along the way. 

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2022 Northern Illinois Huskies Preview

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2022

Northern Illinois Huskies2021-22 Season Record 9-5 (6-2 MAC West) - 9-4-1 ATS - 8-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 9OverviewNorthern Illinois joined the MAC in 1997 and it was 13 years of some good, some bad and some in-between and then in 2010, the Huskies became the elite of the conference. They had five straight double-digit win seasons, going 57-13 over that stretch but they ended up ranked only once, in 2012 when they finished No. 22 and that has been the only time the program has finished in the AP Poll. Since then, it has been above average but last season they had their best one since those glory years, going 9-5 and winning the MAC Championship for the fourth time in 10 years as the Huskies welcomed back 19 starters and head coach Thomas Hammock could be building something really good again. They have 18 starters back this season while being ranked No. 8 in returning production yet are not the favorites (Toledo, Miami Ohio) so they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. OffenseThe offense was not great but they did enough, leaning on a rushing attack that averaged 115 more ypg than in 2020 and finished No. 5 in the country with 234.7 ypg. Leading rusher Jevyon Ducker is gone but Harrison Waylee and Antario Brown are back and last season combined for 1,112 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging a robust 6.1 ypc so there will not be a big drop off. Another reason for that is the offensive line is one of the best in the conference with a pair of All-MAC players leading the way so it will be another lethal ground game. The passing game was limited with Rocky Lombardi having a decent yet unspectacular season but that was expected with the running game what it was. There should be more balance as he has a year under his belt and he has some great weapons at his disposal with Trayvon Rudolph and Cole Tucker who combined for 1,467 yards and 10 scores. DefenseThe defense put the team in some tough spots which was the big reason there were so many close wins and a better unit would have alleviated some of the sweat. Northern Illinois finished No. 112 in total defense and No. 107 in scoring defense which was pretty bad considering it was worse than the 0-6 defense from the previous season. With the bad comes the good and that is nine starters are back so the experience alone is worth a big improvement in 2022. 17 of the top 20 tacklers were freshmen or sophomore so being thrown into the fire makes them better off going forward. All three levels have playmakers led by the linebacking corps that welcomes back Kyle Pugh who missed last season to go along with a talented group. The defensive line is big with tackle James Ester earning All-MAC honors. The secondary has three legit future stars back highlighted by leading tackler C.J. Brown at safety. 2022 Season OutlookThe fact that this team is so young and the defense was so bad is a legitimate reason that the Huskies are not favored to win the conference but does not mean it cannot happen. With so many pieces in place at the right levels, it should happen. Hammock used 2020 to rebuild as there was no fear in losing a season that was lost by so many other teams as well and now Northern Illinois is better off for it and for the foreseeable future. The Huskies open with Eastern Illinois and then are at Tulsa, at home against Vanderbilt and at Kentucky so a 2-2 nonconference record is likely although 3-1 is doable. Now the best part is Toledo and Miami Ohio come to Dekalb as well as Central Michigan and the toughest road game is at Western Michigan. The O/U win total is 6.5 and even if they happened to go 1-2 in those three MAC home games, nine wins still looks like a legitimate number. 

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2022 North Texas Mean Green Preview

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2022

North Texas Mean Green2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (5-3 C-USA West) - 9-4-0 ATS - 4-8-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 5OverviewIt has been a roller coaster ride for North Texas football after bottoming out in the first decade of the 2000s. Dan McCarney brought some life into the program including a bowl game in 2013 and then he too bottomed out and current head coach Seth Littrell inherited a 1-11 team and the turn around came quick with a 19-17 record in his first three seasons but it has been three straight losing campaigns since then but last year we might have seen something that could influence this team going forward - determination. The Mean Green opened with a win over FCS Northwestern St. and then it was six straight losses. Instead of quitting on Littrell, they rallied around him by winning their last five games to become bowl eligible for the fifth time in six years. Even though North Texas lost to Miami Ohio in the Frisco Bowl, the 2021 ending can carry some confidence for a team in need. OffensePlain and simple, the offense last season was a major disappointment. After finishing 2020 ranked No. 7 in total offense, North Texas brought back 10 of those starters including quarterback Austin Aune who was ready for a breakout but instead, the Mean Green regressed by 100 ypg on offense to finish No. 30 in total offense and No. 67 in scoring offense. Aune is back but will be tested for the starting role but competition is a good thing to have. Also good to have are three excellent receivers to throw to led by Roderic Burns who had 54 catches and 715 yards. The passing numbers were down because of inaccuracy at quarterback and because the running game flourished, finishing No. 3 in the country behind DeAndre Torrey who ran for over 1,200 yards but he is gone and second leading rusher Ikaika Ragsdale takes over. Four of five starters from the offensive line return. DefenseThe defense improved enormously as the Mean Green dropped over 125 ypg from 2020 to finish No. 67 overall after ranking No. 127 the previous year. It certainly was not a great unit, yet the improvement was one of the best in the country but what goes up looks like it will come down as six starters have to be replaced and some are irreplaceable. One starter that is back is linebacker K.D. Davis who led the team with 120 tackles and he will have to carry the defense until it can all come together. Losses up front will be impossible to overcome as Gabriel and Grayson Murphy combined for 15 of the 38 team sacks and that is hard to overcome. In addition to those two, both tackles also have to be replaced to the front four looks shaky at best. The secondary has three of four starters back and will have get after the ball better as the six interceptions were tied for No. 109 in the country. 2022 Season OutlookLast year was a success even though it was a losing one based on how it transpired. Littrell is still considered a coach with a ton of upside and the second half of last season showed that as he united his team to reach down and that they did. Even if the turn around did not come, he likely would have been safe still because of the upside he possesses. That being said, this will be one of his toughest coaching tests since coming to Denton with all of the attrition and the fact the upcoming schedule is a monster. Five of the six road games are against teams .500 or better from last year and are expected to be even better. The home portion is much easier with five of the six against some poor teams so the opposite of this home/road slate would have been ideal. The O/U win total is 6.5 and that looks to be right where it should be as it will take an upset or two on the road to get over this number. 

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2022 North Carolina Tar Heels Preview

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2022

North Carolina Tar Heels2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (3-5 ACC Central) - 5-8-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 8OverviewThree straight bowl games, including an Orange Bowl, would be the envy of many teams and that is what North Carolina has accomplished the last three seasons but it was way below what was expected. The Tar Heels were loaded with at least 16 starters back but something bad went wrong each year that was inexplicable and the underachieving settled in. It is not back to the drawing board for head coach Mack Brown as he has a very good team but nothing special although this is when teams can perform their best with less pressure. This is his fourth season in his second go-around with the program after closing out his first run going 54-18 from 1992-1997 and they hope those glory days can return after posting just one double-digit win season since 1998. 13 starters are back and the returning production ranking is No. 75 but a third straight top 15 recruiting class spikes optimism. OffenseOffense was not the issue among many bad things that led to a disappointing season as the Tar Heels were No. 9 in total offense and No. 17 in scoring offense but they could not do enough at the times when the defense fell off. Quarterback Sam Howell had a very good season but after two exceptional campaigns, it was not good enough as he ran more than he should have which limited his passing. Three players will be competing to take over as Jacolby Criswell, Drake Maye, and Conner Harrell all have something to bring but nothing to stand out to make each a true No. 1. The running game was great with Howell and leading rusher Ty Chandler but their 1,920 yards will be tough to replace. The offensive line has to replace four starters although there is good experience. Wide receiver Josh Downs caught 101 passes for 1,125 yards and he absolutely needs to get the ball again.  Defense10 starters were back from a defense that was average in 2020, ranked No. 56 overall but great things were expected and it bottomed out, allowing 34 or more points in 8 of their last 11 games and finishing No. 87 in total defense and No. 101 in scoring defense. The good news is that eight starters are back with great experience but last year has to be let go. The strength should in the secondary with all four players possessing talent, experience and room for growth and good depth behind them. The linebackers are led by Cedric Gray who was the top tackler last season with 96 and will again be the core with solid talent around him. The defensive line did not do enough to cause disruption and the likely absence of Tomari Fox is huge as he has been suspended for the season barring a late miracle. The exterior on the line now has to find someone at least half as good. 2022 Season OutlookBrown knows how to win but he has always been scrutinized for having great teams that have underperformed and looking at this program, that can be said for 2019, 2020 and 2021. He can coach these kids up and as long as the offense can maintain some sort of consistency and be able to put up points, the defense will eventually take over with the hire of Gene Chizik overlooking the unit. A good season is still expected but a great one is also possible if it can all come together. They open at home against Florida A&M and will be tested at Appalachian St. the following week before another easy game and then Notre Dame comes to town. Of the four ACC road games, Miami and Wake Forest will be tough while Pittsburgh and NC State are the tough home games. And yes, no Clemson. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 which is about right so this looks to be a pass either way. 

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2022 New Mexico St. Aggies Preview

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2022

New Mexico St. Aggies2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (N/A) - 7-5-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 3Defense - 9OverviewWhile some teams such as Massachusetts and Connecticut are in the running for the worst football programs in the country, New Mexico St. takes the cake if looking more long term. There was a winning season in 2017 in the Aggies final season in the Sun Belt Conference where it went 7-6 and since 2003, they have gone a staggering 54-157 and that 2017 Arizona Bowl has been their only one since 1960. They have not been able to find a home as they have been an Independent twice, including currently, to go along with a couple stints in the SBC and an eight-year run in the WAC. The good news is, great news actually, is that Jerry Kill is on the sidelines once again after numerous health problems took him from coaching for a few years after being at Minnesota but came back as an interim coach at TCU last year. The hope is a great pedigree will bring some sort of turnaround. OffenseThe offense has remained relatively ineffective over the last few years and last season, New Mexico St. finished No. 90 in total offense and No. 104 in scoring offense and those are boosted from a huge performance against Massachusetts in the season finale. The Aggies are pretty much starting over here and that is not a bad thing as they have only three starters back which is part of the No. 129 ranked returning production offense. Kill is in place to turn around a running game that averaged 100.4 ypg, which was No. 104 in the country, and having lost its leading rusher, the Aggies turn to a pair of transplants to get it going. The offensive line is the most experienced group where those three starters return so this is a good building block. Quarterback is up in the air with a few players vying for the starting job who will be throwing to basically a brand new receiving corps. DefenseIf you can call it a strength, the defense should be just that this season with nine starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 32. Last season was a disaster as the Aggies were No. 126 in total defense and No. 128 in scoring defense but the experience should pay off with some major improvements showing. The linebackers are in great shape as Trevor Brohard and Chris Ojoh, who combined for 144 tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles, are back in the middle to shore up a bad rushing defense and improve the pass rush around them that was No. 112 in the nation with 18 sacks. Donovan King was second in sacks with 2.5 and he will anchor a defensive line that is big and experienced. The passing defense was second to last in efficiency but should be much better with a pair of excellent returning corners and safety help coming through the transfer portal. 2022 Season OutlookOf all the new 2022 coaching hires, Kill has to be near the top of the list. He succeeded at Northern Illinois and had Minnesota going in a positive direction before seizure problems forced him to take time off but he came back as an assistant at Rutgers, Virginia Tech and TCU and now looks to give the Aggies a positive push. This team will be better across the board but how that turns into wins is still to be determined. The early portion of the schedule could not be much worse for a young team trying to find an identity as they open with five games against bowl teams from last season but there is a stretch of four straight home games in September/October and then dates with Lamar and Massachusetts late in the season. The O/U win total is set at 3 and the arrival of Kill is good for at least one upset but it is hard to back the over with a lot of unknowns still. 

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2022 New Mexico Lobos Preview

Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

New Mexico Lobos2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (1-7 MWC Mountain) - 1-11-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 8OverviewSince entering the MWC in 1999, New Mexico has had its share of good seasons only to be followed up by a long string of bad seasons and it is entrenched in the latter right now. The Lobos had a run of five bowl games in six years between 2002 and 2007 then came seven straight losing seasons with a combined record of 18-67 then went to the New Mexico bowl two straight years and now is in the midst of five losing campaigns in a row and a 13-42 record. Third year head coach Danny Gonzales has been given one more try to form some sort of semblance of a football team after what was an utter disaster last season. New Mexico went 3-9 which is not the worst of records but being outscored by an average of 28-12 including 31-8 over the final eight games tells the story. There is not much help in returning players or incoming players so the writing is on the wall. OffenseThe worst offense in the country will be getting a full makeover this season with just five starters coming back. The Lobos were ranked No. 130 in both total offense and scoring offense, averaging 235.3 ypg and 12.2 ppg respectively and those were not even close to second to last. The quarterback situation was an absolute mess as eight different players threw a pass and it is likely none of them will be the starter this season as Kansas transfer Miles Kendrick has the job to lose. Who he throws to is the question as leading receiver Luke Wysong is back but he had just 224 yards on 9.3 yards per completion and no touchdowns. The running game was better but the two top rushers are gone and taking over will likely be Nathaniel Jones who missed all of last season. The offensive line is another work in progress with two starters back after their top guy transferred out. DefenseThe defense was not half bad as the Lobos were No. 47 overall but that should include an asterisk as opposing teams knew they did not have to do much on offense as two touchdowns were likely enough to win so they went vanilla. But still, it was something and New Mexico brings back eight starters and has a solid No. 48 ranking in returning production. The strength is in the secondary where the top three returning tacklers are back led by safety Jerrick Redd II who had 88 tackles that led the Lobos. They had only nine interceptions which was tied for No. 80 in the nation and that should improve based on their talent and an increased pass rush as they had 25 sacks but nearly a third of those are gone so the experience up front will need to step up. The linebacking crew is nothing special but all three projected starters have a ton of experience and will be better as well. 2022 Season Outlook13 wins over the last five years is not going to bring a lot of excitement from fans, alumni and anyone else vested into this program but it has to get better at some point. Maybe? The good news is that the offense cannot be any worse and more returning starters might have stalled them even more so some fresh faces could be exactly what they need. The defense has a lot of experience coming back and while last season could have been a façade because no one needed to challenge them, the guess is they will be better. They started 2-0 last season but no repeat of that this year as they host Maine to open and then have Boise St. at home six days later. After that, there are a couple of home and road win possibilities but it will not be easy. The O/U win total is 2.5 and there are likely only four other winnable games after Maine so all it takes is two but is far from a guarantee. 

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2022 Nevada Wolf Pack Preview

Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

Nevada Wolf Pack2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (5-3 MWC West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 9-4-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 2Defense - 4OverviewTalk about being thrown into the fire. First year head coach Ken Wilson, who was in the program for 21 years, inherits a team that was the most experienced in the country heading into last season with 22 returning starters to the least experienced coming into 2022 with only six starters back. Former head coach Scott Norvell left for Colorado St. and it seems as though he knew what was on the horizon in Reno so he took off when he could in a lateral coaching move. Nevada has had four straight winning seasons including an 8-5 record last season that included three losses by two points apiece and those eight wins are tied for the most since 2010 when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and finished No. 11 in the AP Poll, the only time they have been ranked to end a season. This year looks to be a rebuild from the start especially with an incoming recruiting class ranked No. 116. OffenseThe Nevada offense did a lot of good things last season as they were No. 32 in total offense, No. 5 in passing offense and No. 15 in scoring offense but now it is basically starting over. Two starters are back, the running back and an offensive lineman and every other position will be up for grabs. Quarterback Carson Strong threw for 4,175 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions and will be impossible to replace and it will likely be either Shane Illingworth from Oklahoma St. or Nate Cox who threw only 43 passed last season for the Wolf Pack. The top five pass catchers are all gone and while there is some experience leftover, transfers will likely be called on to fill in. Running back Toa Taua led an anemic running game with 704 yards but popped with 5.1 ypc and was a great receiver out of the backfield. The offensive line will be filled with transfers as well. DefenseThe defense is not in as bad of shape but it is close. They were not asked to do much last season because of the potent offense and the Wolf Pack finished No. 83 in total defense and No. 51 in scoring defense, just enough to let the offense do its thing. Now it will be up to this side to try and lead the team until the offense can find its rhythm, it that will be even possible. Nevada was solid against the pass as it was No. 35 in passing efficiency defense which was No. 3 in the conference and this is the most experienced of the three levels which is a positive in the MWC. The safeties are fine and cornerback Darion Warren-Green is a great get from Michigan. The best returning player is defensive tackle Dom Peterson who is a fifth year starter with 150 tackles, 41.5 for loss, and 22 sacks. The rest of the line has to step up while the linebacking corps will be brand new. 2022 Season OutlookA fifth straight winning season is unlikely but Wilson was around these parts for a while from 1989-2012 and gained great experience at Washington St. and Oregon for the last decade so while it will take time, he can succeed here. The fact he got 12 transfers to come to Nevada, the ninth most in the country, definitely says something and he can build on that moving forward. The schedule is in the favor of the Wolf Pack where they could steal a couple wins and remain competitive at home. They open at New Mexico St. and then host Texas St. and Incarnate Word so a 3-0 start would not be impossible and then they close out the nonconference slate at Iowa. There are three winnable MWC road games and they get Boise. St., Fresno St. and Diego St. all at home. The O/U win total is 5 and it is unplayable either way with no experience but a doable schedule to make up for it. 

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2022 Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview

Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

Nebraska Cornhuskers2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (1-8 Big 10 West) - 6-5-1 ATS - 6-5-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 5OverviewIt has been a forgettable run for the once proud Nebraska football program as it has had five straight losing seasons, the last four under current head coach Scott Frost. Prior to that, the Huskers had a run of nine straight regular seasons of .500 or better under Bo Pelini and Mike Riley and while the real glory days are long gone, Frost was supposed to be the guy to get them back on top but it has been just the opposite. They have gone 13-31 in the Big Ten during this five-season slide and while the 3-9 record last season was the worst of them all, it was arguably the best of them all as far as competitiveness. All nine losses were by single digits and by an average of 6.2 ppg so Nebraska was painfully close to putting together a winning season. Despite a returning production ranking of No. 102 and just 12 returning starters, expectations are high in Lincoln for a turnaround. OffenseAdrian Martinez seemed like he was at Nebraska forever as he was a four-year starter who compiled 10,792 all purposes yards which is the most in program history and he is now a graduate transfer at Kansas St. but the offense that ranked No. 24 last season should be just fine. The Huskers managed only 27.9 ppg which was No. 71 in the country as they were not clutch when it counted. Taking over at quarterback will be Casey Thompson who transferred in from Texas following a great season where he threw for 2,113 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The top two receivers are gone and while there are a few holdovers, three solid transfers enter the picture. The running game was above average thanks to Martinez so now it will be a traditional back that steps up behind an offensive line that has three starters back and will improve from a subpar 2021.  DefenseThe defense finished No. 50 overall and No. 38 in scoring and will be plugging in new players but there is a lot of experience and transfer help to make this a better unit. The Huskers were unable to take the ball away as their 13 turnovers were tied for No. 112 in the country and that will get better as will getting to the quarterback after registering only 20 sacks, tied for No. 98 in the nation. The sacks should spike as the Huskers welcome defensive end Ochaun Mathis where he started 34 games at TCU and had 15.5 sacks. The defensive front did ok in stopping the run and that should also get better especially with Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich at linebacker, the two top tackling leaders, where they combined for 208 stops as a sophomore and freshman respectively. The secondary is going to be relatively new but experienced with plenty of transfer help behind corner Quinton Newsome. 2022 Season OutlookThis could be the final season for Frost to make something happen after taking a pay cut for another shot of rejuvenating this downward trend. He hired five new assistant coaches and has relieved himself from the play calling duties which indicates that even he knows this is the last gasp. The pieces are in place with a slew of transfers to make this a big year and reverse all of those close losses from last season. The schedule is never easy in the Big Ten but it does not get better than this. The Huskers open in Ireland against Northwestern and then are home for four straight games that includes a doozy against formal rival Oklahoma. Four conference road games include Michigan and Iowa but they miss Ohio St., Michigan St. and Penn St. altogether. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 which is big after a three-win season but getting over that is doable as a 5-1 start can get them there. 

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2022 NC State Wolfpack Preview

Friday, Jul 29, 2022

NC State Wolfpack2021-22 Season Record 9-3 (6-2 ACC Atlantic) - 7-5-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 10OverviewHead coach Dave Doeren took over the reigns at NC State in 2013 and stumbled to a 3-9 record but over the last eight seasons, there has been just one losing record which came in 2019 when the Wolfpack bottomed out late in the season by losing their last six games. They have been to 15 bowl games since 2000 and were eligible last season for the Holiday Bowl but it was cancelled by UCLA because of COVID. However, there have been no major bowls and since 2003, they have never finished a season ranked inside the top 20 and in the history of the program, they have never finished ranked in the top 10. While it has been a steady run, there has been only one double-digit winning season and with what Doeren has put together, this could be the year they clear those hurdles as the schedule sets up well and the Wolfpack are ranked No. 12 in returning production. OffenseThe offense improved slightly from 2020 as they averaged 26 more ypg and finished No. 58 in the country in total offense but did finish No. 32 in scoring offense with 33.1 ppg. The passing game was sensational behind quarterback Devin Leary as the Wolfpack finished No. 19 in passing offense and No. 22 in passing efficiency offense, second best in the ACC. Leary threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions and should be just as solid this season. Gone is his leading receiver Emeka Emezie who had 802 yards but Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter combined for 1,152 yards and both are back along with many others. Now, NC State has to get a running game going that was nonexistent and lost its top two backs so someone has to step. Whoever that is will run behind a very solid offensive line that brings back four starters and has a lot of depth. DefenseThe defense was rock solid as it allowed 331.7 ypg which was No. 23 in the nation and improved by over 84 ypg from 2020. The Wolfpack cut down their points allowed by nine ppg and finished No. 19 with 19.7 ppg. They allowed 33.3 ppg in their three losses and two of those were four points combined and now they have 10 starters back led by a linebacking corps that is the best in the conference. Leading tackler with 99 stops Drake Thomas is back, as well as Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore who were the two top tacklers from 2020 and both missed all or most of last season so this unit is loaded. The defensive line is deep and disruptive that was stout against the run and the front seven finished tied for No. 34 in tackles for loss with 6.5 per game. The secondary was excellent and could be even better with four starters back that finished No. 9 in passing efficiency defense. 2022 Season OutlookNC State will come into the season most likely ranked inside the top 20 and after a likely 4-0 start depending how other top teams do, it could vault into the top 10. Should it start 5-0, the Wolfpack definitely will be in the top 10 as that fifth game comes against Clemson on the road. While it is not a make-or-break year for Doeren, his team is loaded and could be one of the best he has had here and expectations will be high. Overall, the schedule is not horrible as NC State has seven home games that includes two different three-game homestands and while Florida St. and Wake Forest will be difficult games, they should go 7-0 at Carter-Finley Stadium. Besides Clemson, they have Louisville and North Carolina on the road to close out the season. The O/U win total is 8.5 and the over is very attainable as long as upsets are avoided to go along with a big win or two on the road. 

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2022 Navy Midshipmen Preview

Friday, Jul 29, 2022

Navy Midshipmen2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-5 American) - 8-4-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewNavy has gone 7-15 over the last two seasons which is its worst two-year run since 2001-2002 when it went a combined 2-20 in the last season for head coach Charlie Weatherbie and the first season for head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson completely turned the program around by going 43-14 after that first season before leaving for Georgia Tech and Ken Niumatalolo maintained that success with winning seasons in nine of his first 10 years but times have gotten tough with a 21-27 record from 2018-2021. The Midshipmen have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball over this stretch but have faced a brutal schedule over the last two years and last season could have been better as four of eight losses came by one possession although three of the four victories came by four points or less so it does go both ways. This is a big swing season for Niumatalolo who is feeling some heat. OffenseNavy struggled mightily on offense as it finished No. 126 overall and No. 118 in scoring and it was the second straight season where it averaged 285 total yards or less. The rushing game has been the forefront for years and while Navy finished No. 7 in the country with 225.9 rushing ypg, that was deceiving. It averaged only 4.0 ypc and in comparison, it averaged 6.1 ypc during its 11-2 season in 2019. Now it is a complete turnover of running backs as Isaac Ruoss, Carlinos Acie and James Harris II have moved on after running for 1,594 yards and the leading returning rusher is quarterback Tai Lavatai who gained 371 yards but on just 2.2 ypc. The Midshipmen will be smaller but quicker in the backfield and it will be up to the offensive line to improve after injuries really hurt the unit last season but because of that, there is a ton of experience with the interior the biggest question. DefenseThe defense helped keep games competitive as the Midshipmen finished No. 40 in total defense but No. 84 in scoring defense as too many big plays were allowed at the wrong time. A big problem was that Navy took the ball over only 13 times which was tied for No. 102 in the nation so gaining more turnovers is vital which of course helps any defense. Additionally, Navy registered only 16 sacks which was tied for No. 118 so these two intangibles need to get better quickly. Three of the top four tacklers are gone with the biggest losses coming at linebacker with Diego Fagot and Johnny Hodges taking 144 tackles out of the mix but John Marshall and Tyler Fletcher return after 101 tackles so it will not be a huge drop off and they need to get into the backfield. The cornerback situation is unsettled which is a really giant concern after finishing No. 111 in passing efficiency defense. 2022 Season OutlookNiumatalolo turned this team around in 2019 following a 3-10 season in 2018 so getting back on track is a good possibly especially after facing the third hardest schedule in the country. The bad news is that it will be just as tough this season as their opponents went 100-52 with only two teams that had losing records and one of those is from the FCS. The Midshipmen open with a pair of home games against Delaware, which is an important first game to see where they stand before hosting Memphis is the AAC opener. Three of the next four games are on the road and all against teams projected for winning records before a pair of home games. Navy spends all of November away from home against Cincinnati, Notre Dame, UCF and Army. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and with a schedule set up like this, that is going to be a very tough number to surpass unless the luck goes their way. 

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2022 Missouri Tigers Preview

Thursday, Jul 28, 2022

Missouri Tigers2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (3-5 SEC East) - 4-9-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewMissouri snapped a two-year bowl absence with a trip to the Armed Forces Bowl last season and third year head coach Eli Drinkwitz will be out to string something together after several very average seasons. The Tigers joined the SEC in 2012 and after a 5-7 inaugural season, Missouri went 12-2 and 11-3 under Gary Pinkel but another 5-7 season after that was his final one. Barry Odom took over and went 25-25 in four seasons but was never able to get Missouri over the hump and in came Drinkwitz after a 12-1 season at Appalachian St. Those two seasons under Pinkel were the last two that the Tigers finished ranked in the AP Poll and they look to be on the right track. 14 starters are back with a ton of transfers to make an immediate impact and Missouri has now had two straight recruiting classes in the top 25 but this is an important year with the SEC only getting stronger. OffenseThe Missouri offense has topped 400 yards in each of the last two seasons and last season, it finished No. 59 overall and No. 55 in scoring which are average numbers and it could be better this season as long as the quarterback situation sorts itself out. The Tigers limited their turnovers as they were No. 24 in giving it up but 11 of the 13 giveaways were interceptions from Connor Bazelak who is no longer in the program and the new starter will likely not be named until late in fall camp with four players in the mix including transfer Jack Abraham and four-star recruit Sam Horn. Missouri has a better recruit at wide receiver in Luther Burden who will join a veteran group. The running game is even less settled as top back Tyler Badie and his 1,604 yards has moved on so someone has to step up right away behind an offensive line that will be moving parts around to get together. DefenseThe defense improved immensely in the passing game but could not stop the run as the Tigers improved by over 50 ypg through the air but gave up 75 more ypg on the ground from 2020. They do return eight starters and have a new defensive coordinator in place so there is potential for a big improvement. The defensive line is strong on each side but they need to shore up the interior to help improve that rushing defense that allowed a whopping 5.4 ypc and this is where Jayden Jernigan from Oklahoma St. can help right away. The linebackers are in good shape as Chad Bailey is back after starting 10 games and the real force could come from Ty'Ron Hopper who transfers in from Florida. The secondary will be the strength once again as safeties are loaded with Martez Manuel and Jaylon Carlies who combined for 144 tackles and the corners are deep. 2022 Season OutlookThere will be a lot of moving parts at most every position on both sides of the ball so it really remains a mystery how much better this team will be but the fact is they have improved player-to-player overall. While it was just one season, Drinkwitz quickly made a name for himself at Appalachian St. but he fell into a great situation that Scott Satterfield built yet he is showing what he can do, rivaling Lane Kiffin as the portal king in the SEC. The good news is that Missouri has seven home games on the schedule, but the bad news is three-fold. The five road games are all difficult matchups, the home SEC schedule includes Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas and they only have back-to-back home games once which does not come until the final two games of the season. The O/U win total is 5.5 and that number is tough to decipher with numerous unknowns and a treacherous slate. 

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2022 Mississippi St. Bulldogs Preview

Thursday, Jul 28, 2022

Mississippi St. Bulldogs2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 SEC West) - 7-6-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 8OverviewPlaying in the SEC since its inception has had its good and bad for Mississippi St. but it has never been great. Things were looking good over a decade ago but former head coach Dan Mullin left a really good situation in Starkville to make a lateral move to Florida, which at the time looked like an upgrade, and that clearly did not work out. Eight straight seasons of a record of .500 or better playing in the SEC would be the envy of most coaches but he tossed it away and the reigns were given to Joe Morehead which was not the right fit so in came Mike Leach and things look different. The COVID season of 2020 was what it was but three losses by three points or less last season showed that this is a team on the rise only to get better. Both sides of the ball improved and while competing with Alabama in the SEC West is still a ways off, this could be the season that dictates things to come. OffenseThere was a drop off in 2020 with the offense but that year was an aberration for a lot of teams and we saw an increase of nearly 100 ypg and over a touchdown uptick last season with potentially more on the way. The Bulldogs finished No. 23 in total offense but struggled at times getting the ball in the endzone and now with eight starters back, more consistency should emerge. Quarterback Will Rogers came into his own as he completed over 75 percent of his passes for 4,739 yards with 36 touchdowns and only nine interceptions and he could be even better if there is any hint of a running game. His two top targets are gone but there is not a downgrade in wide receiver and more big plays will transpire. The offensive line has to replace both tackles but the tandem of Dillon Johnson and Jo'quavious Marks at running back showed promise despite a limited amount of carries. DefenseWhile Leach is known for the offense, the defense was great, finishing No. 22 overall and while the scoring average was higher than they would have liked, it was put in some tough situations. The stop unit also returns eight starters and there are playmakers at all levels led by the linebackers that will again be all over the field. Jett Johnson and Nathaniel Watson combined for 169 tackles last season and with upgrades around them, they should be even better. The rushing defense finished No. 10 in the country as the defensive line was a wall and it needs to get a bigger push into the backfield. Mississippi St. was just No. 72 in the nation in sacks and that should go up which will help the passing defense that gave up too many big plays. The safeties will have a bigger impact in the second go around in this system and the corners will show improvement via the transfer portal. 2022 Season OutlookMississippi St. was No. 9 in the country in time of possession on offense but it will gladly take a decrease in that to produce more big plays and there is a lot of depth on the defense that can withstand more time on the field. The Bulldogs have not finished ranked in the top ten since 1940 and while Mullin got them into the top 20 three times, bigger things are expected and Leach has the pieces in place to make that move. A 4-0 start to the season is feasible with a pair of home games against Memphis and Bowling Green sandwiched around road games at Arizona and LSU. The schedule ramps up with the final eight games against teams that averaged over 10 wins last season so that upward move has plenty of roadblocks. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and seven home games helps but there looks to be only six games where they will be favored meaning upsets are necessary. 

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2022 Mississippi Rebels Preview

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2022

Mississippi Rebels2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 SEC West) - 7-5-1 ATS - 3-10-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 7OverviewOne word that can describe Mississippi football over the last couple decades - sustainability. This is one thing that has lacked in Oxford from its coaching hires. David Cutcliffe started strong and fell off in 2004. Ed Orgeron could never get it going. Houston Nutt turned it around and then fell flat in his final two years. Hugh Freeze got it going again only to falter in 2016. Matt Luke was never the answer. Now, Lane Kiffin is in his third season with the Rebels following a 10-3 campaign that ended disappointingly with a Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor after quarterback Matt Corral sustained an injury early in the game. The other two losses were to Alabama and Auburn on the road and half of his eight losses have come to those two teams and he gets them both at home this season. There are only 12 starters back this season but it is not a bleak situation with a top notch recruiting class coming as well as loads of transfer talent entering the picture. OffenseCorral was a big part of the offense the last two seasons as he completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 6,686 yards with 49 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and his incredible career ended in a tough finish to watch. Mississippi finished No. 4 in total offense and No. 18 in scoring offense and while Corral was the main fixture, the running game was a star as well as the Rebels were No. 8 in rushing offense with nearly 225 ypg. The running game will be a complete rebuild but not from incoming freshmen or backups considering the leading returning rusher had only 78 yards but via transfers and the Rebels got two really good ones coming in with Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley, part of seven defectors for the offense. Likely taking over at quarterback is Jaxson Dart who played a decent amount at USC and should fit right in. Wide receivers are new as well as the top three are gone and the offensive line is shifting around as well. DefenseThe Rebels allowed 428.8 ypg which was No. 101 in the nation and that was close to a 100-yard improvement from the previous season showing how bad it was in 2020. They did not allow a ton of points as the were No. 54 in scoring defense with 25.0 ppg which was down by 13 ppg from last year. Now, a lot has departed but there are enough returning playmakers with solid experience along with a few additional transfers to help right away. The strength will be in the backfield as Otis Reese and A.J. Finley combined for 181 tackles at the safety spots and while depth is short at cornerback, they will be fine as long as a pass rush emerges because the Rebels lost a lot up front. Inside lineman Sam Williams was a beast with 12.5 sacks, 57 tackles and four forced fumbles but he is gone and help is on the way. The outside rush is fine with Cedrick Johnson as are the linebackers with Troy Brown coming from Central Michigan. 2022 Season OutlookKiffin gets a lot of heat for his brashness and style and he tells it like it is which makes him unique as most coaches are like robots when they speak and give their opinions. That is why players love him and it has shown throughout his coaching career as he nails down transfers that make immediate impacts and that will be the case this season. Despite only 12 starters back, this is not a rebuild but a reload. He has won nearly two-thirds of his games in his career and this is the ideal spot for him. The schedule features seven home games including Alabama and Auburn as mentioned as well as Kentucky and Mississippi St. in the SEC. Mississippi should open the season 6-0 prior to the game with Auburn which starts the brutal part of the slate with all six games against teams projected for 6.5 or more wins. The O/U win total is 7.5 so it might take some road upsets to get to that over but late in the season, those are possible. 

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2022 Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2022

Minnesota Golden Gophers2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-3 Big Ten West) - 8-4-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewMinnesota football was never really a thing through the late 1990s but it has quietly become one of the most consistent programs behind the usual big boys and it has come close a few times to making that next big step only to get stuck. In 23 seasons since 1999, the Golden Gophers have had records of .500 or better 13 times including eight campaigns of eight wins or more while competing in 17 bowl games. While none of this pertains to how the prospects are for this season, it simply shows that they have made the leap into the top half of the conference and are a team that everyone else has to respect. The Gophers finished No. 10 in 2019, the highest ranking since 1962 and last season they went 9-4 that included three losses by a combined 17 points. Head coach P.J. Fleck has built something that Jerry Kill started a decade ago and there appears to be no slowing down and will be on the cusp on a preseason top 25 ranking. OffenseMinnesota struggled on offense last season as it finished No. 97 overall and No. 85 in points scored which was due to not having any sort of a consistent passing attack. The Gophers were No. 115 in passing offense but it was a much better No. 69 in passing efficiency which might be a better indicator of what to expect. Quarterback Tanner Morgan has taken a step back from his phenomenal 2019 season where he led Minnesota to an 11-2 record as he has completed just 58.9 percent of his passes for 3,418 yards with 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions the last two years. Expect some of that 2019 magic to resurface as he has been in this system long enough and he has his top five receivers back and while none popped, there are explosive options. The Gophers running game led the way 195.2 ypg and get Mohamed Ibrahim back after rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2020 in just seven games. The offensive line is a strength again. DefenseThis is the area that Minnesota took charge as it was No. 4 in total defense, No. 9 in scoring defense, No. 9 in rushing defense and No. 10 in passing defense so there were no weaknesses across the board. The Gophers will undoubtedly take a step back this season but it should not be a big regression as the 2019 defense was nearly as good so they know how to get it done. Jack Gibbens was a force at linebacker but is now with the Tennessee Titans so it will be up to his counterpart from last season Mariano Sori-Marin who was second on the team with 85 tackles to take over the lead at inside linebacker. The defensive line is strong on the inside but it will need an upgrade with the pass rush as they had just 25 sacks, tied for No. 82 in the country, and should get it. The secondary is going to have to rely on a pair of new cornerbacks led by Justin Walley who had one interception and 28 tackles. The safeties will pick up the early slack. 2022 Season OutlookMinnesota is right in the middle of the pack to win the Big Ten and if the offense can make a move and the defense maintains itself, it could be a surprise sleeper. The schedule has both good and bad aspects to it and overall, it is probably in their favor. Overall, there are seven home games and five road games as the Gophers start the season with three consecutive nonconference home contests against New Mexico St., Western Illinois and Colorado so a 3-0 start is expected before diving into the Big Ten slate. The bad part is that five of the nine games are on the road with three of them at Michigan St., Penn St. and Wisconsin but they are spread out a month apart. Making up for that is the fact Minnesota misses Ohio St. and Michigan altogether for the second straight season. The O/U win total is 7.5 and there are enough winnable home games to get close while games at Illinois and Nebraska could be the deciding factors. 

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2022 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Preview

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 C-USA East) - 7-6-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 6OverviewHead coach Rick Stockstill has been at Middle Tennessee for 16 seasons which is a very long time for a coach to still be around with a career record of only three games over .500 in that span. The Blue Raiders have just one double-digit winning season and have not won more than eight games besides that and the results are invites to nine mid-to-low tiered bowl games. But he enters his 17th season with the program and the final one in the current C-USA format as more teams are leaving next season and more coming in making a total new look next season. After having 20 starters return last season, only 11 come back this season so it will be a little more challenging especially considering their No. 108 ranking in returning production. 2019 was the last season they had half or fewer of their starters returning and that resulted in a 4-8 season and that is something that has to be avoided this year. OffenseThe Middle Tennessee offense was below average last season as it was ranked No. 100 overall and the rushing game was nonexistent as it was No. 110, averaging a mere 120.8 ypg on 3.5 ypc. The leading rusher gained only 372 yards and he is gone so someone has to step up and it could be Frank Peasant who was third on the team with 239 yards but managed only 3.7 ypc or it could be a young player to emerge. Quarterback Chase Cunningham was progressing nicely with 1,318 yards passing and 16 touchdowns with only three interceptions but he got hurt in the eighth game and was done for the season. He now has to hold off Nicholas Vattiato who finished pretty strong in relief. There are numerous receiving options but none that jump off the chart so it could be another season of spreading the ball around after nine players caught a touchdown pass. The offensive line stunk and now has to replace four starters. DefenseThe Blue Raiders were better on defense and that is what kept them afloat. They held seven opponents to 24 points or less and to no surprise, they went 6-1 in those games and they are going to need another above average performance and one that is more consistent. Middle Tennessee improved by over 70 ypg and 10 ppg from the previous season which was due to being No. 1 in the country in takeaways and that is something that cannot be counted on again. The strength of the defense is going to be up front as all four players from the defensive line are back including sack leader Jordan Ferguson who got to the opposing quarterback six times and was part of the all-around group that finished tied for No. 30 in tackles for loss. That backend is in trouble with the four top tacklers gone including linebacker Reed Blankenship who did it all in the middle. Five replacements back here will have to step up in a hurry. 2022 Season OutlookBy the looks of things, it looks like another average season for Middle Tennessee as nothing jumps out as something that can carry this team if other areas break down. Essentially, every level on both sides will have to improve as the Blue Raiders were No. 53 or worse in seven of the eight major stat categories. Stockstill is a beloved asset to this program so he is not on the hotseat unless something utterly horrible happens but another bowl game will at least keep him around. The schedule is not in their favor as the Blue Raiders have seven road games including nonconference games at James Madison, Colorado St. and Miami Florida and they have to go to UAB in their toughest road conference test. Playing UTSA and Western Kentucky at home is a decent break. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and while it is low, finding four or five sure wins is difficult enough, let alone six as a 2-5 road record looks about right. 

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2022 Michigan St. Spartans Preview

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

Michigan St. Spartans2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (7-2 Big Ten East) - 9-2-2 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 9OverviewIs Sparty back? After not being ranked for three straight seasons, Michigan St. went 11-2 and closed at No. 9 in the final AP poll. Former head coach Mark Dantonio did something his predecessor John Smith could not accomplish and that was get Michigan St. into the upper echelon of college football as he put together six double-digit win seasons and put the Spartans into the final AP top ten poll three times but a pair of 7-6 campaigns in 2018 and 2019 did him in. While Mel Tucker went just 2-5 in his first season, it was not a good indicator for many teams during the COVID shortened season and with 17 returning starters, he took advantage and let everyone know that Michigan St. is back, at least for one year. Everything went their way as statistically, there is no way they should have won 11 games with the numbers they put up but maybe that is a good sign yet luck can change quickly especially in this conference. OffenseThe offense put up some solid numbers last season as the Spartans were No. 42 in total offense, averaging 431.3 ypg and No. 40 in scoring offense, putting up 31.9 ppg and those averages were up over 100 ypg and 14 ppg from the previous season. That was with 10 starters back and Michigan St. has to work with half of that total this season so there could be a drop off. The running game led the way behind Kenneth Walker III who rushed for 1,636 yards and scored 18 touchdowns but he is now in the NFL and the Spartans are likely going to have to rely on a pair of transfers to carry the load. Quarterback Payton Thorne was excellent as he threw for 3,233 yards with 27 touchdowns and just nine interceptions but we will have to see how he performs without a stud running back. He has two of his top three receivers back and while pass protection was outstanding, three starters on the offensive line have to be replaced. DefenseWhat the hell happened to the Michigan St. defense last season? The Spartans finished No. 116 in total defense but only bent for the majority of the time as they were a more respectable No. 61 in points allowed. What was a weakness in 2021 needs to be the strength this season to carry the offense early on that has to adjust. Nine starters are back and for the talent that is in place, this is a good thing despite the rough numbers last year. Some of it did not make sense as the Spartans were tied for the seventh most sacks in the country but were dead last in passing yards allowed. What? The secondary is a year older and added talent from the transfer portal so it has no choice but to be better and it has to be a lot. The pass rush will be close to the same as the defensive line is strong even though they lose the two top sack leaders. Help is coming in to mold with the veterans and the linebacking crew will again cause havoc. 2022 Season OutlookIt really is mindboggling how a team can be so bad on one side of the ball yet win so many games and seven were by double-digits. Michigan St. caught some teams in the right scheduling situations and also faced some teams missing key players that it took advantage of. This cannot happen again and seeing that Tucker comes from a defensive background, that unit should have a big turnaround to make up for a possible lethargic early season offense. They will not hit 11 wins again but should be above the .500 mark. A pair of home games against the MAC starts the season and then they hit the road in a tough spot at Washington. The early Big Ten slate is brutal with improved Maryland and Minnesota and then Ohio St., Wisconsin and Michigan back-to-back-to back but the first two are home. The O/U win total is 7.5 and we see six most likely wins so there are some swing games that will determine how that total pans out. 

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2022 Michigan Wolverines Preview

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

Michigan Wolverines2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (8-1 Big Ten East) - 11-3-0 ATS - 7-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 4OverviewIt was a special season for Michigan that won its most games since winning a National Championship in 1997 and snapped an eight-game losing streak to rival Ohio St. to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship and eventually, the College Football Playoff. The question begs are the Wolverines back to their elite status from years ago or was last season just a one-off and they will come back down to earth? The answer is no one really knows. The nasty defense from last season is no more as all seven starters lost went to the NFL so now it will be up to the offense to carry them. Michigan finished last season ranked in the AP top ten for the first time since 2006 as the typical scenario was being ranked in the top ten early and falling flat late. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done a very good job in getting Michigan back to playing at a high level with four double-digit win seasons now we will see if he can keep it going. OffenseThe offense was exceptional last season as Michigan finished No. 20 in total offense and No. 13 in scoring offense behind nine returning starters and the Wolverines get the same amount back this season and have the No. 13 ranked returning production offense. Quarterback Cade McNamara was very efficient but did not put up monster numbers as he had only 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns and he will have to get the ball down field more that is if he wins the starting job as it is open with J.J. McCarthy right in the mix. Leading receiver Cornelius Johnson returns while top target from 2020 Ronnie Bell is back after missing last season and there is plenty of depth. The offensive line was the best in the Big Ten as the pass protection was spot on and helped lead the No. 10 rushing attack but there are pieces to replace. Also being replaced is leading rusher Hassan Haskins but backup Blake Corum ran for 952 yards. DefenseThis will be interesting. Losing talent that Michigan has to replace will be a challenge after finishing No. 11 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense. The Wolverines were stout in both areas coming in at No. 22 in passing defense and No. 21 in rushing defense and there are pieces in place to be really good but nothing like last season. The defensive line has to replace star Aidan Hutchinson and his 14 sacks which accounted for over 40 percent of the team sacks but the interior remains in place to stuff the run. Another big loss is linebacker David Ojabo who had 11 sacks and five forced fumbles but two starters return for this unit that will be expected to improve the pass rush that was average overall, ranking No. 53 in team sacks. Top tackler and interceptions leader from the secondary Dax Hill along with second leading tackler Brad Hawkins have to be replaced and while there is experience, there is not that "it" guy yet. 2022 Season OutlookThe 2021 season was excellent in a lot of ways and one intangible that should not be overlooked is that Harbaugh got the Buckeyes monkey off his back and there will be less pressure on him going forward. His commitment is still scrutinized as his name pops up every year surrounding coaching gigs in the NFL but he has stayed put, at least for now. No one ever took Michigan lightly but this year will be even more so. A lot of elite programs schedule top caliber nonconference games but Michigan does not and this year is no exception as it opens with home games against Colorado St., Hawaii and Colorado St. and those are not good litmus tests going into Big Ten season. Overall, it is not horrible as they do have Iowa and Ohio St. on the road but get Penn St. and Michigan St. at home with a bye in-between. The O/U win total is set at 9.5 and the over looks doable with eight home games but there is still trouble out there.  

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2022 Miami Ohio RedHawks Preview

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022

Miami Ohio RedHawks2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (5-3 MAC East) - 6-7-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 6OverviewMiami Ohio is trending in the right direction after a very extended bad run from 2006-2017 when it had 11 losing seasons over those 12 years. The RedHawks have been .500 or better over the last four seasons, albeit a 2-1 COVID shortened 2020 season included, under head coach Chuck Martin who endured four straight losing campaigns after taking over a program coming off a 0-12 season and going nowhere. This is the best run since the Ben Roethlisberger days and it does not seem to be slowing down as they just had their best recruiting class in a very long time and third overall in the MAC. One thing that Miami Ohio has not deterred from is scheduling tough nonconference games under Martin and they have gone 2-10 over the last three seasons, not counting 2020, but that has made them better down the stretch as the RedHawks have gone 18-9 in the MAC and in bowl games. Expect more of the same. OffenseThe overall stats were not great but they were good enough as Miami Ohio finished No. 48 in total offense and No. 63 in scoring offense and the disparity in those rankings can be attributed to a below average third down offense where it converted only 39.2 percent of its opportunities but that will improve. The No. 20 ranked passing offense was directed by quarterback Brett Gabbert, yes of that Gabbert clan, as he threw for 2,648 yards with 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions but he needs to become more accurate as he hit only 59.5 percent of his passes. He loses top target Jack Sorenson and his 1,406 yards but there is plenty leftover and will have no problem finding open receivers. The offensive line is one of the best in the MAC and brings back four starters that allowed 21 sacks, tied for No. 21 in the country. They will look to improve a running game that averaged 143.9 ypg and while young, everyone is back. DefenseLike the offense, the defense was not great but capable enough to keep games close as the RedHawks were No. 62 overall No. 45 in points allowed and that disparity is a flip of that of the offense as they were excellent on third down defense. It could be a work in progress this season as Miami Ohio has only six starters back and the returning production is ranked just No. 120 in the country. The rushing defense has improved immensely over the last few years but a revamped defensive line will have its growing pains getting thrown right into the fire but there is still talent and experience to form a solid group that will improve. The linebackers are in good shape with Matthew Salopek who was second on the team with 112 tackles and they are getting help in the transfer portal to make up for lost production. Only one starter is back in the secondary but it is a good one in corner John Saunders, Jr. and transfers will be scattered in here as well. 2022 Season OutlookThere is enough on offense to put up big numbers again and they will likely have to do that with a defense that is suspect in some areas. Since 2016, Miami Ohio has endured 15 losses by a touchdown or less and even if half of those go the other way, the 34-33 record over that stretch would be significantly better. Still, the RedHawks are competing again which had not happened in a long time and they should be there once again. Three of the first four games are away from home against Kentucky, Cincinnati and Northwestern along with a home game against Robert Morris and a win over Northwestern is feasible. The MAC schedule is far from daunting and Miami Ohio is the favorite in the weaker East Division and it misses Central Michigan and Toledo from the West. The O/U win total is 6.5 and with only five home games, it will take some work on the road, namely at Buffalo and Bowling Green to get over this number.  

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2022 Miami Hurricanes Preview

Monday, Jul 25, 2022

Miami Hurricanes2021-22 Season Record 7-5 (5-3 ACC Coastal) - 6-6-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewIt is hard to believe that Miami has been this average for this long. Since finishing No. 2, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 from 2000-2003, the Hurricanes have one, yes one, double-digit winning season, have not been ranked in the top ten in the final AP Poll and have lost 10 of their 11 bowl games. They have not been awful as they have had only three losing seasons with the worst being a 5-7 record in 2007 but they have been mediocre and that should not be Miami football that is based in the hotbed of recruiting. They have not been able to find the right coach to fit, even Mark Richt could not get rolling, but Miami found its guy and its guy has always wanted to be here. Mario Cristobal left a great situation in Oregon to come back to his alma mater and get this program where it should be, competing for national championships. It will not happen overnight but one of the best recruiters around should make this work. OffenseYardage wise, Miami has gotten better on offense in each of the last four seasons and last year, it finished No. 22 in total offense and No. 25 in scoring offense and should be just as potent in 2022. D'Eriq King opened the season as the starting quarterback but was injured after three games which gave Tyler Van Dyke the opportunity and he ran with it. He threw for 2,931 yards with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions and it is now his team. His top receiver Charleston Rambo is now in the NFL and his No. 2 is also gone but Key'Shawn Smith is ready to take over after 405 yards while transfer help is also on the way. The running game was lagging far behind as the Hurricanes were No. 97 in the country with just 128.8 ypg but get a boost from Henry Parrish, Jr. who comes from Mississippi where he ran for over 500 yards to work with leading rusher Jaylan Knighton. The offensive line will be better with Cristobal in the mix. DefenseThe heart and soul of this team for years was its defense and it has taken a serious tumble the last two seasons, allowing 400 ypg combined. The Hurricanes were No. 77 overall and No. 88 in scoring last season which is so far below their standards. Allowing 44 points to Alabama is one thing but allowing 30 or more points seven other times is uncalled for. While seven starters are back, the biggest impact is new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to go along with newcomers as Miami loaded up transfer help from top level programs to deliver right away. The defensive line could see three brand new faces which will vastly improve the pass rush that left the secondary on an island. The linebacking corps brings back its two leading tacklers with even more help on the way. The passing defense was as bad as it could be but a lot of it was not on them as they were put in tough spots and should be a strength this year. 2022 Season OutlookSome legends have roamed the sidelines from Schnellenberger to Johnson to Erickson to Davis to Coker and now Cristobal wants to be put in that group. He made FIU a winner, albeit for just two seasons and went 35-13 at Oregon where he did not have a losing season and now he is back in his hometown and his roots could make all the difference. Playing in the weaker ACC Coastal Division helps and getting to an ACC Championship will happen sooner rather than later. Two home games against Bethune-Cookman and Southern Mississippi will get them off to a confident 2-0 start before a tough trip to Texas A&M. Then Middle Tennessee comes to town prior to a bye week before ACC action kicks off. The early half is navigable then Florida St. and Pittsburgh at home and Clemson on the road are more dicey. The O/U win total is 8.5 and that is big number and even though expectations are high, tread lightly with this one.  

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2022 Memphis Tigers Preview

Monday, Jul 25, 2022

Memphis Tigers2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (3-5 American) - 4-8-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 6OverviewMemphis became part of the American Athletic Conference in 2013 and finished with a 3-9 record and that still stands as the only losing record in the nine seasons there. Justin Fuente turned things around after that as he went 19-6 in a little under two seasons before going to Virginia Tech and Mike Norvell kept it rolling for four seasons before heading to Florida St. Current head coach Ryan Silverfield is in his third season as the helm and after an 8-3 inaugural season, the Tigers took a slight step backwards last season with a 6-6 record. The difference was close games as in 2020, they lost only one game by one possession while in 2021, they dropped three games by a field goal or less so if the breaks went their way, it could have been a 9-3 season. 13 starters are back which is three less than last season but some key players are part of the returnees and will look to avoid another losing AAC season, their first since 2013. OffenseThe offense took a small dip from 2020 but it was not significant as Memphis finished No. 34 overall and No. 52 in scoring, a 26 ypg and one ppg difference from the prior season respectively. The passing game led the way as the Tigers were No. 17 in the country behind one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the country in Seth Henigan as he threw for 3,322 yards with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions and missed one game which resulted in a 17-point loss to UCF. His top two pass catchers are gone which are big losses but there was a lot of depth that returns this year so the passing game will be just fine. It is the running game that needs more production as Memphis was only No. 90 in the nation in rushing offense. It was led by another freshman as Brandon Thomas ran for 669 yards and eight scores and he will get better. The offensive line returns its center and both tackles, three key positions for this offense. DefenseMemphis played solid defense in a few games but for the most part it was pretty bad which was an insignificant improvement from a season ago. The Tigers were No. 96 in total offense and No. 92 in scoring defense and that simply puts too much pressure on the offense. Nearly half of the starters have to be replaced including linebacker J.J. Russell who led the team with 123 tackles and seemed to be around on every play. Xavier Cullens was fourth in tackles and he will be the star of this unit and will get help from some transfers. The defense generated 25 sacks and that has to improve as sacks leader Jaylon Allen had a respectable five sacks from the middle of the defensive line but the team needs more push from the outside. The Tigers were No. 101 in passing defense but should be a lot better with the experience as they are led by safety Quindell Johnson who was second on the team with 104 tackles. 2022 Season OutlookA .500 season is nothing to be upset about but Memphis missed out on a bowl game as the Hawaii Bowl was postponed due to COVID issues with the Warriors so the Tigers made the trip for naught which was disappointing for the seniors and ended a seven-game bowl run but that comes with an asterisk. Silverfield has not seen a huge drop off from previous teams but he could still use a big season to keep folks happy and keep the recruits coming in. He hopefully shored up the defense with a new defensive coordinator. The Tigers open with a pair of road games at Mississippi St. and Navy and a 1-1 result would be respectable. Memphis then has four straight home games and it should take the first three with fourth coming against Houston. Cincinnati is off the schedule and they get UCF at home. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 which is a tricky number but seven home games help the cause if they are to surpass that. 

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2022 Massachusetts Minutemen Preview

Monday, Jul 25, 2022

Massachusetts Minutemen2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (N/A) - 4-8-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewSince bringing football back to Amherst in 2012, Massachusetts has never compiled a winning record and in those 10 seasons, it has won two or fewer games in half of those. The Minutemen started off in the MAC and after only four years, the ties were cut and they became an Independent where it has not been any better. Yes, there were a pair of 4-8 seasons in 2017 and 2018 but they have gone 2-26 over the last three seasons and are one of the worst programs going. Enter head coach Don Brown who is back to roam the sidelines a second time after success here as a Division II team to see if he can instill any life into a listless culture. Massachusetts was ranked No. 122 in total offense, No. 126 in scoring offense, No. 125 in total defense and No. 130 in scoring defense so it has nowhere to go but up and it should improve in all categories as it brings back 17 starters and is ranked No. 4 in the country in returning production. OffenseThe offense got better, tongue in cheek, from 2020 where is scored a total of 12 points in four games but it was still not good. There were signs of potential as the Minutemen scored 27 or more points four times but also failed to crack the touchdown mark four times as well. The good news is that the offense consistently improved over the latter half of the season and it can build on that this season with nine returning starters including quarterback Brady Olson who took most of the snaps of the five that did last season. He was not good but the experience helps and he has a solid receiving corps to throw to. The pass protection was not horrible as the offensive line surrendered only 26 sacks but the offense was not on the field that much. Still, it is a capable line that will open holes for the running game that features Ellis Merriweather, easily the offensive MVP, after rushing for 1,138 yards and five touchdowns last year. DefenseThe defense had one good game against an equally horrible Connecticut team and in the nine other games against FBS teams, allowed an unfathomable 535.9 ypg and when FCS teams Rhode Island and Maine can hang 35 points on the defense, things are bad. Like the offense, experience is all over the place which can be good or bad and in this case, it will be better and probably by a decent amount as Brown oversaw some solid defenses in his time away. The defensive line is big and with a few transfers coming into the rotation, the pass rush should get a lot better after finishing No. 128 in sacks with 11. The top two returning tacklers are back as linebackers Gerrell Johnson and Da'Shon Rice combined for 156 tackles so this will be the strength of the defense. The big area that has to improve is the secondary as they finished second to last in passing efficiency defense, allowing 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions. 2022 Season OutlookBrown compiled a 43-19 record at Massachusetts from 2004-2008 and while that was at the lower level, it is a building block. If you are a defensive coordinator at Michigan for five years from 2016-2020, you are doing something right and while this is not going to be any sort of total turnaround, things will be looking up. As an Independent, the schedule is pretty similar to past seasons as far as strength with a share of games where it should be competitive. Opening the season with four road games in their first five is not ideal but two at Temple and at Tulane provide hope along with a home game against Stony Brook. Three other games against New Mexico St., Connecticut and Arkansas St., who combined for five wins last season, are late in the season where chemistry should already be together. The O/U win total is 2.5 and the over is certainly attainable if the aforementioned areas do in fact improve. 

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2022 Maryland Terrapins Preview

Monday, Jul 25, 2022

Maryland Terrapins2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (3-6 Big Ten East) - 5-8-0 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 7OverviewSince leaving the ACC and joining the Big Ten in 2014, Maryland has yet to have a winning conference record as it has gone 19-47 including a 3-6 mark last season. Playing in the brutal East Division with the likes of Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St. since its arrival has not helped matters as the Terrapins have gone 4-25 against the big four with nearly every one of those losses being blowouts. Thanks to a 3-0 nonconference record last season, Maryland went bowling for the first time since 2016 where it defeated Virginia Tech 54-10 and can carry that momentum into this season where expectations are high for the first time in a while. The Terrapins bring back 16 starters, they have a returning production ranking of No. 40 in the country and their recruiting classes over the last three years have been exceptional. Head coach Mike Locksley could be building something good here in his fourth season. OffenseAfter years with a flailing offense, Maryland stepped it up last season as it finished No. 33 in total offense and had one of the best passing games in the nation, coming it at No. 14 thanks to the breakout of quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. He threw for 3,860 yards with a 69 percent completion rate while throwing 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. A year of great experience and success should make him even better this season and cutting down the turnovers will help. The receiving corps is loaded with Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus, Jr., who combined for 1,336 yards and eight touchdowns and they brought in another deep threat through the transfer portal. The one thing lacking was a running game as the Terrapins were No. 94 in the nation and lost their leading rusher but there will be improvements. The offensive line brings back all five starters and with defenses keying on the passing game, the ground game can excel. DefenseThis is where Maryland has struggled for years, especially against those big four teams, although there has been improvement in each of the last two seasons. The Terrapins were No. 93 in total defense and No. 105 in scoring defense as they could not stop teams on third down, allowing opponents to convert over 40 percent of the time, and were near the bottom in the country with only 12 takeaways. Look for both areas to improve this season despite some key losses. The defensive front was strong in the middle and will be again but the linebackers will have to step up. Ruben Hyppolite II was the fourth leading tackler last season and will lead a young group that needs to attack the ball and there were just seven forced fumbles last year. The secondary possesses two strong cornerbacks led by Jakorian Bennett and like the linebackers, help will needed in the middle as the safety spots will be young and thin early on. 2022 Season OutlookLocksley was a disaster at New Mexico where he compiled a 2-26 record and then had a 1-5 stint here as an interim coach in 2015 but after three years at Alabama, the final one as offensive coordinator, he got a second chance in College Park. It did not start great but things are taking a turn for the good and this is a very important year with so much returning production. The nonconference schedule is very gettable again this year as the Terrapins have home games against Buffalo and SMU sandwiched around a road game at Charlotte so a 3-0 start is a must and then it begins. They open Big Ten play at Michigan and at home against Michigan St. and those two games will be an indicator of how the rest will go. Back-to-back road games at Wisconsin and Penn St. and a home game against Ohio St. is a brutal late stretch. The O/U win total is 6 so taking care of business against the teams they should beat is essential for a winning record. 

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2022 Marshall Thundering Herd Preview

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022

Marshall Thundering Herd2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-3 C-USA East) - 6-7-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 6OverviewConference USA is no power league but it is adequate and Marshall had great success there with nine winning records over the last 11 seasons that included nine bowl games and six wins. Instead of trying to move into a stronger conference, or even a lateral move, the Thundering Herd are headed to the Sun Belt Conference this season, arguably the worst or second worst conference in the country but if there was a year to do it, this is the one. Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi along with former FCS powerhouse James Madison also join the SBC so it will definitely be stronger this season but is it still a questionable shift. Head coach Charles Huff is in his second season with Marshall and his first one resulted in a winning record that could have been better as four of the six losses were by one possession and it outgained nine of 13 opponents but only 11 starters are back along with a No. 103 returning production ranking. OffenseThe offense was solid under Huff as they brought nine starters back including quarterback Grant Wells and while he aired it out often, he did throw 12 picks and overall, the Thundering Herd finished No. 10 in total offense and No. 26 in scoring offense. Wells is off to Virginia Tech and Marshall will likely turn to Henry Colombi who is a transfer from Texas Tech where was a decent option in limited action but threw 10 interceptions compared to 15 touchdowns and that needs to get better. He will have the leading receiver from last season at his disposal as Corey Gammage caught 78 passes for 869 yards but just two touchdowns. The offensive line was fantastic but have to replace some key pieces and some early season chemistry is a must. Despite finishing No. 71 in rushing offense, Rasheen Ali had an incredible season as he rushed for 1,401 yards with 23 touchdowns and his production can take pressure off Colombi at least early on. DefenseThe defense was not nearly as good as Marshall finished No. 73 in total defense but it kept teams out of the end zone as it allowed only 22.8 ppg which was No. 40 in the nation thanks to a killer pass efficiency unit. The Thundering Herd finished with 40 sacks which was tied for No. 15 in the country and they will have to replace a lot of those but the defensive line will be serviceable again with a pair of big transfers coming in. Koby Cumberlander was second on the team with 4.5 sacks and will once again be the top man in the middle. The linebacking corps is solidified with all three starters returning and they were sensational with 10 sacks between them and a total of 260 tackles so they know how to attack the ball. The secondary benefitted from that pass rush as they finished No. 26 in passing defense and No. 12 in passing efficiency defense and two key players have to be replaced at the safety position so it could be a small slip. 2022 Season OutlookWhile the early thought is that a move to SBC is questionable, the fact that three other teams also moved over shows that this conference is moving up and there have been some very solid programs in the past. Huff was successful in the final season in C-USA with a loaded team and as mentioned, if there was a season to move, this was probably the ideal one with a lesser roster and a schedule that is on their side. The Thundering Herd open at home against Norfolk St. and then head to Notre Dame for the first of three straight road games. A game against a much improved Bowling Green team and then their first Sun Belt game at Troy concludes the trek. Another FCS game at home against Gardner Webb concludes the nonconference slate. They play four of the top SBC teams coming up but all of those are at home, a huge bonus. The O/U win total is set at 6 and they can go over if they take care of business at home in the SBC. 

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2022 LSU Tigers Preview

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022

LSU Tigers2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (3-5 SEC West) - 5-7-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewIt does not take long for the natives to become restless but that is life in the SEC. Ed Orgeron took over for Les Miles midway through the 2006 season and went 6-2 only to improve to 9-4 in 2017 to 10-3 in 2018 and then ultimately, going 15-0 with a National Championship in 2019. With hardly anyone returning in 2020, the Tigers fell to 5-5 and then not even with last season over, Orgeron was given the heave-ho and LSU had its first losing season since 1999 although he was not responsible for it as a bowl loss completed it which he was not even there for. LSU made a big hire in Brian Kelly who left a Notre Dame program that went 54-9 over his last five seasons in what was a great situation to one that is more murky. He inherits a team that has only half of its starters returning and one that still plays in the toughest conference in college football. He won big in his three previous stops but now comes his biggest challenge yet. OffenseThe LSU offense was below average as a whole last season as the Tigers were No. 87 overall and No. 77 in scoring. They had a very strong passing attack but possessed one of the worst rushing offenses in the country as they averaged a mere 109.8 ypg on 3.3 ypc, their second straight year of a dismal run game. Quarterback Max Johnson was great last season as he accounted for 27 touchdown passes and just six interceptions but he transferred to Texas A&M leaving a big hole at the position. There are solid options however with Garrett Nussmeier and Myles Brennan both having experience here and transfer Jayden Daniels who has big potential. Kayshon Boutte led the team in receiving with 509 yards despite playing less than half the season and is a legit NFL prospect. The running game needs more punch and John Emery, Jr. will be that guy to do so but will be working behind a revamped offensive line. DefenseThe bread and butter of the team for years took a massive tumble in 2020 but regrouped last season, improving by 114 ypg and eight ppg. Still, LSU was below average as it finished No. 64 in total defense and No. 59 in scoring defense but pieces are in place for another improvement. The strength of the defense last season was stopping the run as the Tigers allowed 139.2 ypg on 4.0 ypc along with a solid pass rush that finished with 38 sacks, tied for No. 23 in the nation and those will be the strengths again behind a stout defensive line. The front three is loaded as the starting trio has accumulated 18.5 sacks over the last two seasons and this group could be one of the best in the conference. The linebackers are far less experienced but defensive coordinator Matt House is a former NFL linebacker coach in the NFL so he will have them ready. Transfers will dominate the secondary with the lone holdover being safety Jay Ward. 2022 Season OutlookKelly won at Central Michigan, he won at Cincinnati and he won at Notre Dame but the question brought up the most was if he is the right hire for this program. He has no southern roots and while his first recruiting class was solid, it was the worst for LSU in four years. There will always be talent in Baton Rouge but he has never competed against strong teams like this on a consistent basis and only time will tell. LSU is ranked No. 82 in returning production so his inaugural season is a question mark, especially with this schedule. They open against Florida St. and then have three straight home games to ease into the difficult SEC slate. The four road games are all difficult against projected winning teams and the home side is no cakewalk also against four teams projected with 6.5 or more wins. The O/U total is set at 7 which is certainly attainable but it will take a lot of overachieving and some big road upsets to get to eight victories. 

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2022 Louisville Cardinals Preview

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022

Louisville Cardinals2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (4-4 ACC Atlantic) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewLouisville has never been considered a football powerhouse but it has had its moments with five double-digit win seasons since the turn of the century but none since 2013 and only one in back-to-back years. 18 winning seasons compared to just six losing ones over the last 24 years is a very consistent run but there has been no continuity to stay at a high level for a prolonged period. The Cardinals have played in four different conferences and have made coaching changes five times over this stretch and that is difficult to get a flow going and after two straight losing seasons, head coach Scott Satterfield needs to turn it around. He has led them to two bowl games in his three years but in a not so elite ACC, this team should be more dominant. That season could be here and the decade long run of single win campaigns could be broken with 15 starters back and one of the most experienced teams in the conference and in the country. OffenseLouisville had the same scenario last season with eight starters back on offense and the Cardinals produced as they finished No. 21 in total offense and No. 39 in scoring offense and are loaded once again. Quarterback Malik Cunningham is in his third season as the full time starter and over the last two years, he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 5,351 yards with 38 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while rushing for over 1,600 yards. This could be his best one yet coming up if he can cut down those picks and gel with the new receiving core that includes a pair of incoming transfers along with Braden Smith who played only four games last season. Four starters on the offensive line are back that allowed only 20 sacks last season and helped produce the No. 20 rushing offense in the land. Cunningham was the leading rusher but Jalen Mitchell returns after rushing for 722 yards with quality depth behind him. DefenseThis is the area that Louisville needs to improve as it brings back seven starters for a second straight season after finishing No. 84 in total defense and No. 76 in scoring defense. One area that has vastly improved is the rushing defense that has gotten better in each of the last four seasons and has cut down the total yards by 120 ypg since 2018. Still, the 4.4 ypc allowed last season which was outside the top 50 needs to get better and should behind a strong front seven that includes two disruptive playmakers on each level and two players who missed a lot of time last season after great 2020 campaigns. Louisville finished with 33 sacks which was No. 45 in the country and is led by linebacker Yassir Abdullah who had 10 of those sacks to go along with 60 tackles. The passing defense was not good despite the solid pass rush but it should improve led by safety Kenderick Duncan who had 76 tackles and a slew of excellent corners. 2022 Season OutlookThis is not a make or break season for Satterfield but this is probably his best team since arriving at Louisville and playing in the loaded ACC Atlantic including Clemson, NC State and Wake Forest, all of which are projected for 8.5 or more wins, will be a challenge. Louisville is ranked No. 14 in the country in returning production so there is no reason for a breakout year and to be able to compete with the big boys. The schedule is an odd one with ACC and nonconference games spread around throughout as the Cardinals open the season with a conference game at Syracuse followed by a tough matchup at UCF. They then host Florida St. and USF before a pair of winnable road games at Boston College and Virginia. While Clemson is on the road, NC State and Wake Forest are at home. The O/U win total is 6.5 which seems low but the backend of the schedule is loaded with six teams that won at least nine games last season.  

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2022 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Preview

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns2021-22 Season Record 13-1 (8-0 Sun Belt West) - 7-7-0 ATS - 3-11-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewLouisiana has chalked up three straight double-digit win seasons, the only three in the history of the program, but getting a fourth will be difficult. Last season was one for the ages as the Cajuns lost to Texas in their season opener and then ran off 13 consecutive wins and finished ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll. When your team goes 40-12 over a four-year span in a smaller conference, the head coach is bound to be gobbled up by a big boy program and that is what happened to Billy Napier as he took off for Florida to try and turn around a once proud program. Michael Desormeaux takes over as the new head coach after leading them as interim coach to a New Orleans Bowl victory over Marshall and this is his first full time head coaching job. Louisiana has a lot to replace as it loses 11 starters with the biggest losses coming on offense that was actually sporadic at times last season but did just enough. Another West Division title is likely though. OffenseFor a team that won 13 games, the offense was not great as the Cajuns finished No. 63 overall and No. 50 in scoring. They hung up big numbers on teams they were supposed to but also scored 24 or fewer points five times. Now the challenge will be to somehow come close to replicating those rankings. Quarterback Levi Lewis, who was outstanding as a full time three-year starter, will be sorely missed and now there will be a battle between Chandler Fields and Ben Wooldridge and seeing that both have different styles, both could see decent time on the field. The top three receivers are back so there is at least that to hang their hat on and give them some hope to help the quarterback along. Leading rusher Chris Smith, who ran for 855 yards is back so there should be good balance but whoever is blocking and pass protecting might take a while to figure out as Louisiana has to replace four starters along the offensive line. DefenseThis was the area that Louisiana dominated most of the season as it finished No. 36 in total defense and No. 11 in scoring defense. They allowed 468 ypg against Texas, Nicholls and Georgia Southern in three of the first four games but in the other 11 games, they yielded just 306.6 ypg. The Cajuns do have to replace six starters but the holdovers are loaded with playmaking ability. The defensive line will likely be the force as on the inside, Zi'Yon Hill had 58 tackles and 5.5 sacks while on the end, Andre Jones contributed 60 tackles and four sacks. At linebacker, Chauncey Manac is a massive loss after totaling 166 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks including 10.5 last season over his 46 career games as is leading tackler Lorenzo McCaskill so spots need to fill quickly. The secondary is in good shape as long as the pass rush continues to be disruptive because they have two starters back and some decent experience as well. 2022 Season OutlookWhile no one expects a repeat of last season with a team record 13 wins, it is not out of the realm of possibility. Players make the team but culture is a big part of it and this is a program that possesses that so hiring the coaches from the inside was a huge and smart move. The Cajuns will be the hunted all season long and they are better than every team on their schedule based on projected victories  so another big season can take shape as long as they stay relatively healthy. They open with three nonconference cupcakes and then SBC season gets underway with five games against teams projected for 5.5 wins or less. Troy is up next, their toughest conference opponent but that game is at home. The final two are easy and those are sandwiched around Florida St. on the road. The O/U win total is 8.5 and the Cajuns will be favored in every game expect against the Seminoles so we are saying yes to double-digits and comfortably. 

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2022 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Preview

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 C-USA West) - 4-7-1 ATS - 9-3-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewWhen head coach Sonny Dykes left for the California job in 2013, Louisiana Tech hired Skip Holtz after stints at East Carolina and South Florida and he inherited a rebuilding project in the first season in C-USA and it in ended up 4-8 but then things turned around for the better. He put together seven straight winning seasons including six straight bowl wins but a 28-3 loss to Georgia Southern in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl followed by a 3-9 record last season did him in and the program now turns to Sonny Cumbie who took over for Matt Wells in the final five games at Texas Tech last season. Last year was a major disappointment as Louisiana Tech had 18 starters back but the offense was inconsistent and the defense was consistently bad. The Bulldogs return 15 starters but are still young and a lot of the veterans from last season have moved on as they come in with a ranking of No. 101 in returning production so there will be work to do. OffenseThe offense started great last season as it averaged 33.4 ppg through the first five games but then faltered down the stretch behind a defense that collapsed. The Bulldogs finished No. 78 in total offense and No. 70 in scoring offense and those rankings should be much better under Cumbie and his high octane, attacking offense but a quarterback has to emerge. The leading candidate heading into camp is Parker McNeil who played under Cumbie at Texas Tech so he knows the system which is a big plus. The two leading receivers are back as Smoke Harris and Tre Harris combined for 111 receptions and 1,318 yards with 10 touchdowns and eclipsing a total of 2,000 yards is in the cards. The running game lost its leading back and Greg Garner takes over after rushing for a mere 216 yards last season. The offensive line is what will make this system click and it should be just fine with three starters back and a lot of depth and experience. DefenseThere were three good games by the defense where it allowed 17, 19 and 23 points but the other nine games were a disaster, as they gave up 38.8 ppg and finished No. 113 in scoring defense and No. 107 in total defense. Eight starters are back and playing a new scheme will improve this unit that will be flying all over the field. The biggest issue was getting after the quarterback as not enough pressure was applied and that resulted in only 20 sacks which was No. 98 in the nation. The defensive line is big and strong with a pair of starters back in Keivie Rose and Mykol Clark who had only three sacks between them but will improve upon that. Leading tackler Tyler Grubbs was all over the place, making 97 stops at linebacker but two replacements need to be made around him. Safety BeeJay Williamson accounted for three of the nine interceptions and with a ton of experience in the secondary, more takeaways should be expected. 2022 Season OutlookThis is not a complete rebuild that most new coaches typically get following a firing and the Bulldogs have the capability to be a dangerous team and if nothing else, an interesting one to witness that will improve in time. Cumbie directed the Air Raid offenses at TCU and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator and if he can get the most out of the quarterback here, there should be plenty of points. From a scheduling standpoint, it is not very optimal as the Bulldogs will be on the road for seven of their 12 games including Missouri and Clemson in two of the first three games sandwiched around Stephen F. Austin where new defensive coordinator Scott Power came from. The conference schedule is not bad as they only face three teams projected for more than 5.5 wins. Their O/U win total is set at 4.5 and there is a stretch in the middle where five of six games are against teams with win totals of 5.5 or less so the over is doable. 

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2022 Liberty Flames Preview

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022

Liberty Flames2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (N/A) - 7-6-0 ATS - 5-7-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 4OverviewLiberty has been in a tough spot since joining the FBS ranks in 2018. The Flames have no conference affiliation as they have played as an Independent since the start which makes scheduling more difficult and on the more broad scope, they are not playing for a conference championship, just a lower-tiered bowl game. Liberty has accomplished the latter each of the last three seasons after not being eligible in the first year and at some point, trying to make new goals becomes more difficult. For instance, in 2020 the Flames went 9-1 with the only loss coming against NC State by one point and their reward was a trip to the Cure Bowl and they ended up No. 17 in the final AP Poll. This changes next season when they become a member of C-USA so it is one more year for head coach Hugh Freeze to motivate the troops for another who cares bowl game and while some top talent has been lost, another winning season is very attainable. OffenseThe offense was chugging along last season and it was off to a 7-2 start but then over the final three games, the Flames scored 14, 14 and 16 points and lost all three games with a turnover margin of -11. They were led by quarterback Malik Willis and finished No. 47 in total offense and No. 42 in scoring offense but Willis has moved on and the job likely goes to veteran Charlie Brewer who has solid experience at Baylor and Utah. He has a solid offensive core to work with as the two top receivers are back in Demario Douglas and C.J. Daniels who combined for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns. The running game never got going last season and while it finished No. 51 in rushing offense, it should have been a lot better as it relied on Willis too much. T.J. Green rushed for 477 yards and is ready for a breakout and he will be behind an offensive line that is filling holes with incoming transfers from some major schools. DefensePraise goes to the defense that has allowed just 319 ypg over the last two seasons and finished No. 12 last season overall while allowing only 21.7 ppg. It faltered down the stretch as well but were pinned back often because of the turnovers on offense and now Liberty has to replace seven starters and some big ones at that. They lost two of their top three tacklers and they are from the middle so the linebacking corps will be the weakness and they will turn to Aakil Washington who was second on the team with 4.5 sacks while adding some transfer talent. The defensive line was strong and will be just as good this season behind ends TreShaun Clark and Durrell Johnson and are beefed up in the middle with Auburn transfer Dre Butler. The best returning player on defense is safety Jason Scruggs who was second on the team with 61 tackles and will head a secondary that has two solid corners and should be much better in takeaways. 2022 Season OutlookThe Flames have one more go as an Independent before taking a step up into the conference world which will bring in more top recruits as they have been No. 89 or lower in those rankings the last three years. Freeze has built something good here and while that has been his present goal, he is aiming to get back into the Power Five mix but 2022 is the main focus right now. Liberty opens on the road at Southern Mississippi before a tough home game against UAB and then a tougher test at Wake Forest. After that, it looks like four straight wins barring any glitches against Akron, Old Dominion, Massachusetts and Gardner Webb. Three tests remain against BYU, Arkansas and Virginia Tech but the first and third of those are at home. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and the first game could set the tone as they are a slight favorite so a win there should push them over but a loss means an upset or two down the road will be needed. 

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2022 Kentucky Wildcats Preview

Friday, Jul 22, 2022

Kentucky Wildcats2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (5-3 SEC East) - 8-4-1 ATS - 8-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewKentucky football is relevant once again. After the Joker Phillips experiment failed after three losing seasons, Mark Stoops took over as head coach in 2013 and while he too started off with three losing seasons, he came in with a plan as he had nothing to work with from the start and it has paid off with five winning campaigns in the last six years, the lone exception being a 5-6 COVID season, and the Wildcats are currently on a six-season bowl run. They look to extend that to seven this season and while Kentucky returns only 11 starters, you do not have to look back too far as that was the number that came back last season and the Wildcats went 10-3 with one of those losses coming by three points. A lot of teams would struggle with that lack of starting experience but it is different here as numerous players have made spot starts and received important playing time. The linesmakers know this with the projected 7.5 wins for 2022. OffenseThe offense had its share of ups and downs last season but it was mostly the latter and the Wildcats finished No. 43 in total offense and No. 30 in scoring offense. They had a midseason funk but poured it on late, averaging 46.0 ppg in their final four regular season games. The offense has six starters back and most importantly, one of those is quarterback Will Levis who completed over 66 percent of his passes for 2,593 yards with 23 touchdowns, while also running for nine scores, and 12 interceptions and those picks do need to come down. Along with him, the other mainstay is running back Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. who ran for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns and he should be a horse again. After that, things get a little dicey but help is on the way. Levis loses his top two receivers but there is depth and experience along with some key transfers coming in. The offensive line has to replace three starters but should come together. DefenseThere have been some very good defenses over the last few years and last season was extremely solid, finishing No. 26 in total defense and No. 32 in scoring defense. The Wildcats allowed 17 points or less six times and they were gashed really only once, allowing 45 points in a loss by three points to rival Tennessee. Five starters are back, the same as last season, and the big ones are in the middle which is key. Linebacker Jacquez Jones led the team in tackles with 82 and will be paired up with J.J. Weaver who led Kentucky with 6.5 sacks while De'Andre Square and his 81 tackles rounds out the corps. The defensive line is somewhat inexperienced but it is massive and should be fine against the run where Kentucky finished No. 16 in the country last season. The secondary has good experience and has a solid cornerback in Carrington Valentine who finished with 61 tackles but the team needs more turnovers as they had just five interceptions. 2022 Season OutlookAlways known as a hoops school, Kentucky football always played second fiddle and while it will probably never pass the basketball program in popularity or success, there is definitely an upward trend. Stoops has had offers to move to bigger football schools but he has stayed put to watch this program grow into its own. As with every SEC Team, the schedule is difficult but very doable. They have three nonconference home wins in September sandwiched around a big game at Florida. They also have Mississippi and Tennessee on the road and the toughest opponent will be Georgia which is at home. The Wildcats miss Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M out of the West Division and that is big. The O/U win total is 7.5 and looking at the schedule, a 6-3 start looks about right and the final three games are at home against Vanderbilt, Georgia and Louisville so it will take a couple upsets along the way to cash the over. 

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2022 Kent St. Golden Flashes Preview

Friday, Jul 22, 2022

Kent St. Golden Flashes2021-22 Season Record 7-7 (6-2 MAC East) - 7-7-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewAfter playing only four games in 2020, Kent St. came into 2021 loaded with 10 returning starters on each side of the ball and it did not disappoint. After a 1-3 nonconference start, the losses against Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland, the Golden Flashes righted the ship, going 6-2 in the conference and went to the MAC Championship for the first time since 2012 and while it lost that game and its bowl game by way of blowouts, positives were put in place. Head coach Sean Lewis took over a program that was mired in a losing culture with five straight losing seasons, posting a dismal 14-45 record including 9-30 in the MAC and while his first team went 2-10 with the leftovers of Paul Haynes, he has not posted a losing season over the last three years and has two bowl trips. A significant amount of starters are back this season but a lot of experience has left as Kent St. is ranked only No. 117 in returning production so there is work to do. OffenseThe offense did not get a lot of publicity last season, because it plays in the MAC, but the Golden Flashes were potent by averaging 482.2 ypg which was No. 8 in the country while averaging 32.6 ppg, good for No. 36 overall. Quarterback Dustin Crum had a very good season but was not asked to do a lot with his arm as the rushing offense led the way, averaging 243.2 ypg which was fourth best in the nation. Crum has departed Collin Schlee will take over the reigns after limited action last year. In might take him a while to adjust but the good news is that the rushing attack will be as powerful with Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams both coming back after combining for 2,017 yards and 14 touchdowns. The receiving corps is loaded led by Dante Cephas who had 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns with plenty of depth under him. The cause for concern is the offensive line that is going through a rehaul and will get lit up early. DefenseIt was fortunate the offense was as good as it was because the defense was awful, finishing No. 122 overall and No. 119 in points allowed. They were able to shut out an awful Akron team and allowed only 10 points to VMI of the FCS but gave up 37 or more points in nine of their other games. It is going to be a work in progress as six of the top seven tacklers are gone, leaving holes just about everywhere. The most experience is on the defensive line but it has to improve immensely after registering only 23 sacks and finishing No. 108 in tackles for loss. They were also bad on third down and the back seven has to up its game in that regard as well. Safety Dean Clark was the team leader in tackles with 116 and he returns and the hope is everyone else can feed off of him. The remainder of the secondary is adequate and coming close to the 16 interception will be a bonus. The linebackers will be raw and need to adjust on the fly. 2022 Season OutlookIt seems that every year, there is a team from the MAC that emerges to the top but has trouble staying there and that looks to be the case for Kent St. with a lot of new faces in the mix behind some solid returning playmakers. Lewis has succeeded with similar rosters so he can get the best out of this bunch but the loss of Crum at quarterback is huge as he knew the system in and out and was the proven leader of this team. The 1-3 start from last season will be duplicated this year as Kent St. has a sure win at home against Long Island but the other three nonconference games are at Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia so while the paychecks will be nice, the morale could take a hit. The MAC slate is manageable but includes three difficult road games although they miss Northern Illinois and Western Michigan out of the West. The O/U win total is 5 and a 0-6 start on the road is likely meaning taking care of business at home is a must. 

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2022 Kansas St. Wildcats Preview

Friday, Jul 22, 2022

Kansas St. Wildcats2021-22 Season Record 7-5 (4-5 Big 12) - 7-5-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 7OverviewAfter an eight-game bowl streak came to an end in 2018 under the second stint for Bill Snyder as the Kansas St. head coach, he retired again and the Wildcats brought in Chris Klieman to take over the program and he has put together two 8-5 seasons to go along with the 4-6 COVID-shortened season. This team was consistently dominant throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s then things started going south until a pair of double-digit win seasons in 2011 and 2012 but it has leveled out to being good but not great. The offense has been stuck in neutral for years and they are hoping that changes this season while continuing to rely on a strong defense that has been the trademark for decades with a couple exceptions along the way. Kansas St. has not been final ranked since 2014 and has not won an outright Big 12 Championship since 2003 and it is hoping the fourth year in this system can get it back to the top. OffenseThe offense averaged 354.8 ypg which was just No. 101 in the country as both running and passing were inconsistent which resulted in some good efforts but also some very bad ones. The Wildcats averaged only 285.7 ypg over their final three regular season games and while they exploded against LSU, the Tigers were depleted on defense. There was very average play at quarterback and they brought in Adrian Martinez from Nebraska where he put up solid numbers but also brings that inconsistency tab along. He is a duel threat which should fit nicely here and he has the pieces around him to succeed. Leading rusher Deuce Vaughn is back following a spectacular season with 1,404 yards and 18 touchdowns but there needs to be an uptick at wide receiver as Vaughn led the team in catches and no receiver had more than 474 yards. The offensive line has only two starters back but has time to come together early on. DefenseKansas St. relied on its defense to keep things close last season as it finished No. 37 overall and No. 29 in scoring, giving up just 21.1 ppg and it was a huge turnaround from the 2020 season. Seven starters are also back on this unit and the linebackers will once again pave the way. Daniel Green led the team with 83 tackles and he returns to lead a veteran group that is also getting a game ready transfer from Nebraska. The Wildcats were strongest against the run as they allowed only 126.6 ypg on 3.7 ypc and that should not change with a stout defensive line that is buoyed by end Felix Anudike-Uzomah who caused plenty of havoc as he led the team in sacks with 11 while forcing six fumbles. The passing defense was ok last season and should improve as Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe are back at the corner positions so safety help is needed and they have take it away more as the nine interceptions were bottom third in the nation. 2022 Season OutlookIt has been a consistent run for Kansas St. over the last nine seasons but it has not been able to take that leap near the top like many other Big 12 teams have. Klieman has done a good job of keeping the Wildcats relevant but more is expected following the legendary years of Snyder. The conference is wide open this season with Kansas St. sitting right in the middle at +1,500 and all it takes is a couple upsets to set the stage and it has a chance early. The Wildcats open with three straight home games against South Dakota, Missouri and Tulane so they should be 3-0 heading into their Big 12 opener at Oklahoma. That is one of five conference road games with West Virginia being the easiest so yes, there needs to be upsets to make it special. The O/U win total is 6.5 and there are five home games they will be favored in with the other two coming against Oklahoma St. and Texas which are late in the season and could mean a lot. 

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2022 Kansas Jayhawks Preview

Thursday, Jul 21, 2022

Kansas Jayhawks2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-8 Big 12) - 4-8-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewKansas has been the doormat of the Big 12 for 13 straight years as it has gone 8-106 in the conference over that stretch and has never won more than one game in a season. The Jayhawks last bowl game was in 2008 when they finished 8-5 and it seems like forever ago when they went 12-1 in 2007 that included a win in the Orange Bowl that resulted in a ranking of No. 7 in the final AP Poll. They are coming off a 2-10 season, the first for head coach Lance Leipold but things were different toward the end. After defeating South Dakota in the opener, it was blowout after blowout after blowout, eight straight by double-digits to be exact, but then something happened. Kansas defeated Texas in a wild 57-56 overtime upset and then lost its final two games by just nine points combined. It now has an opportunity to carry that positive energy into this season and see where it can go. And there is nowhere to go but up. OffenseThere was nothing good about the offense as Kansas finished No. 113 overall and No. 111 in scoring. It put up 17 points or fewer in half of their contests but the Jayhawks had three of their four highest point totals in the last three games. Now with nine starters back and with a second straight decent recruiting class, things have a chance to improve. Quarterback Jalon Daniels played sporadically in two September games but came in against Kansas St. and showed promise and started those final three games where he completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 860 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions and he is the man going forward. There is not much star power at receiver but there is talent and plenty of experience that came late in the season. Four starters are back on the offensive line which will improve the running game and create some balance as leading rusher Devin Neal and his 707 yards is back. DefenseAs bad as the offense was, the defense was worse as the Jayhawks were No. 129 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense and the only reason they were No. 80 in passing defense was because teams did not have to throw. Like the other side, the defense has a chance to be a lot better with eight starters back and increased depth with a lot of key transfers that will get a ton of time. The three top tacklers are back, two from the linebacking corps with Rich Miller, Jr. and Gavin Potter combining for 157 tackles to form a solid nucleus. The secondary should be greatly improved as safety Kenny Logan who led the Jayhawks with 111 tackles returns and they get two transfers who played big roles on their old teams to solidify the backfield. The defensive line was not good but three starters are back along with another key transfer so experience should make improvements up front and get a better pass rush. 2022 Season OutlookThere have been seven coaches on the Kansas sideline during this putrid 13-year stretch and while a 2-10 season is not going to instill much confidence into the fanbase, good things happened down the stretch and if Leipold was able to turn things around in Buffalo, he has a chance to do it here but it will be small steps. Kansas opens with Tennessee Tech and while this is an easy game for most teams, typically that is not the case here but a blowout could do wonders with two road games on deck. The Big 12 schedule is difficult as usual but there are games to keep close. Betting a Kansas over usually came down to the final two or three games and most of the time it did not turn out good but this could be the year where there is no sweat in November. The O/U win total this season is 2.5 and this team could feasibly be 3-1 in its first four home games and an upset on the road could cement the over for a stress free November. 

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2022 James Madison Dukes Preview

Thursday, Jul 21, 2022

James Madison Dukes2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (7-1 CAA) - 0-0-0 ATS - 0-0-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 8OverviewThe lone entrant into the FBS pool in 2022 are the James Madison Dukes who come over from a very successful run in the FCS ranks following a 12-2 record last season including a 7-1 record in the CAA to win their third straight conference championship. No. 3 seed James Madison rolled over SE Louisiana and Montana in the first two rounds of the FCS playoffs before succumbing to No. 2 seed North Dakota St., the eventual National Champion by six points. The Dukes enter the Sun Belt Conference and while this is their first season, they would likely be at the top half of the favorites board to win it but they are ineligible for a title and a bowl game because of a ludicrous NCAA probationary rule. This team is loaded with 17 returning starters and should give some of the big boys headaches but a jump to a bigger and stronger field could cause some growing pains. OffenseWhile nine starters are back on offense, one of those is not quarterback Cole Johnson who was the Offensive Player of the Year in the CAA and he will be missed. The likely player to take over is Todd Centeio who is a transfer from Colorado St. and he was solid yet unspectacular with the Rams last season as he threw for 2,958 yards on a 60.3 percent completion clip with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Going to a lesser conference helps as does the fact he is behind a great offensive line that returns four starters that will be better in pass protection and keep the holes open for a strong running attack. Leader rusher Latrele Palmer returns after running for 947 yards and there is good depth behind him. Leading receiver Antwane Wells and his 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns is gone but second leading receiver Kris Thornton and his 1,097 yards and 13 touchdowns is back. DefenseDefensively, the Dukes were also the best in the conference where they allowed just 275.2 ypg and 15.4 ppg but they will likely take a fall despite a solid core coming back. Losing the top two tacklers is hard to replace, especially at the linebacker position where James Madison goes from veteran leadership to very young plugins. This will be the weakest unit on the field so the front and back ends will have to make it up as much as they can. The defensive line also lost its best player but there was good rotation last season and three other starters are back to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. The Dukes were No. 13 in the FCS in sacks with nearly three per game while the rushing defense was No. 8, allowing a mere 89.0 ypg. The secondary is loaded as well with three starters back as well as solid incoming talent from both recruiting and transfers. 2022 Season OutlookHead coach Curt Cignetti has built a powerhouse in Harrisonburg and he looks to continue that at the higher level and while it could take some time, he is not starting from the ground floor up. This is not the SEC they are playing in so the Dukes will be competitive and win their share of games in a schedule that includes only 11 games with six of those taking place on the road. He could be in line for another Sun Belt coach to find work at a major program down the line. James Madison opens with home games against Middle Tennessee St. and Norfolk St. and then gets christened into the conference slate with a game at favorite Appalachian St. Five of the final eight games are against teams with losing records from last season so who knows. The O/U win total is 6.5 and that is a tough number to predict for a team making the jump into bigger waters so this has to be a pass. 

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2022 Iowa St. Cyclones Preview

Thursday, Jul 21, 2022

Iowa St. Cyclones2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-4 Big 12) - 5-8-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 3OverviewLast year was supposed to be a whole lot better. The Cyclones came into the season ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll, coming off a 9-3 season, closing No. 9 in the rankings which was the highest ever and returning 20 starters. They snuck by Northern Iowa in the season opener then lost to rival Iowa the following week for the sixth straight time and it was all average after that. It was the fifth straight winning season for head coach Matt Campbell since coming to the program from Toledo which followed seven straight losing years in Ames but the once hot commodity coach is just another name at this point. Things look to be more challenging this season as a lot of the core pieces have moved on but they have showed to do more with less, finishing 8-5 in 2018 and 9-3 in 2020 with limited returnees and thus are hoping for something similar with only 8 starters back. OffenseThe offense had its moments last season but those mostly came against bad competition and the Cyclones managed 24 points or less five times. They did finish No. 35 and No. 34 in total offense and scoring offense respectively and many new faces will have a tough time matching those rankings. Quarterback Brock Purdy was very good but he has moved on and it will be Hunter Dekkers taking the snaps and while he has thrown only 43 collegiate passes, this is his third year in the system. He has wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson at his disposal as he hauled in 83 passes for 987 yards but the loss of tight end Charlie Kolar is big. Along with Purdy, the other big loss is running back Breece Hall who rushed for 1,472 yards and 20 scores. It will be up to his backup  Jirehl Brock, who has had limited action and will be behind an offensive line that has to replace four starters. DefenseThe Cyclones stopped the teams they were supposed to as they allowed 10 points or less four times including a great performance against Texas while finishing No. 23 in points allowed and No. 10 in total defense but that is mostly in the past. Iowa St. has only three starters back but all hope is not lost as there are playmakers and it will be up to some key reserves to plug into the vacated holes. The linebacking corps took the biggest hit as Jake Hummel and Mike Rose, who combined for 153 tackles are gone but there is promise with experienced replacements. The defensive line will have to carry the load at least early on and will be led by defensive end Will McDonald IV who had 11.5 sacks and forced five fumbles. Replacing versatile safely Greg Elsworth II is a problem for a secondary that finished No. 11 in the nation in passing defense and overall, has to replace three starters. 2022 Season OutlookIowa St. outgained opponents by 116 yards per game and a disparity like that needs to produce a better record. The Cyclones lost five games by one possession as they simply were not clutch when needed as they were No. 91 on third down, converting just 36.4 percent of their opportunities. There were too many slow starts which put pressure on the defense and that could only go so far. Campbell is safe but he really needs that breakout season that has eluded him. Iowa St. opens with SE Missouri St. followed by a road game at nemesis Iowa hoping to break the losing streak. Five of the next seven games are at home but they close with two road games at Oklahoma St. and TCU sandwiched around a home game against Oklahoma. The O/U win total is 6.5 and based on the past, this should be covered but there are six games that could be more likely losses than wins. 

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2022 Iowa Hawkeyes Preview

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2022

Iowa Hawkeyes2021-22 Season Record 10-4 (7-2 Big Ten) - 6-6-2 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewYou know you have a solid program when there has been just two head coaches since 1979 and at 23 years and running, Kirk Ferentz is by far the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. With a 10-4 record last season, it was the ninth straight winning campaign for the Hawkeyes which broke their previous record of eight, set twice, the last coming from 1981-1988. They have finished in the final top 10 in the AP Poll five times under Ferentz but no higher than No. 7 and playing in the rugged Big Ten makes it hard to get over the top. There are 15 starters returning and Iowa will come into the season ranked and should get off to another strong start that will push them up on the polls before the beef of the conference season kicks in. Iowa has another legitimate shot at making it back to the Big Ten Championship playing in the weaker West Division but the crossover will be a test. OffenseThis is where Iowa fell flat last season as it finished No. 123 in total offense and No. 96 in scoring offense while averaging 8.5 ppg in its four losses. The quarterback situation was a mess as Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla split time because of injuries and neither were effective as combined, they completed 54.3 percent of their passes for 2,305 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The good news is both saw extensive time so whoever wins the job knows the system and has plenty of reps in it. The leading receiver is back, albeit a tight end, and Iowa needs to find ways to get the ball downfield. Surprisingly, the running game was just as bad as the Hawkeyes averaged just 120 ypg on 3.5 ypc and that is not Iowa football. Leading rusher Tyler Goodson and his 1,151 yards need to be replaced and it will be up to the improved offensive line to open holes and protect better. DefenseThe defense carried the team all season as the Hawkeyes finished No. 18 overall and No. 14 in points allowed and while they did allow 42 points to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship, they were great in almost every other game. They did slip a little down the stretch but that happens to a lot of teams going deep into a season and Iowa has the potential to be just as good. There are seven starters back that includes All-Conference playmakers on each level. Lukas Van Ness and Joe Evans are stars on the defensive line after combining for 14 sacks and were excellent run stuffers. The linebackers are in great shape with Jack Campbell and Seth Benson returning after a combined 246 tackles and both will be considered for the Big Ten First Team. The secondary has to replace some key components but they are led by Riley Moss who returns after missing three games. 2022 Season OutlookIowa has not had back-to-back double-digit winning seasons since doing it three straight times in 2002-2004. Getting to that 10-win milestone again will be difficult based on the setup of the conference schedule but if everything goes at it should, yes it is possible. The Hawkeyes have had only four losing seasons under Ferentz, two coming in his first two seasons and another because of a bowl loss so this has been one of the most consistent programs in the country. The Hawkeyes will open 4-0 barring a home upset against Iowa St. before hosting Michigan. They have three tough road games at Ohio St., Minnesota and Purdue and the only other difficult game is at home against Wisconsin. The O/U win total is 7.5 which is a very reasonable number as there are seven wins at first glance so it will take just one win in those hard games and it is very possible Iowa gets more than one. 

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2022 Indiana Hoosiers Preview

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2022

Indiana Hoosiers2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (0-9 Big Ten) - 2-10-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 7OverviewIndiana is not known as a football powerhouse so when the Hoosiers came into last season ranked No. 17 in the AP Preseason Poll, the first time ranked since 1969 when they were pegged at No. 14, something special may be happening. 2020 was a weird year because of COVID so take it for what it is worth but beating Michigan, Michigan St. and Wisconsin and losing to Ohio St. by just a touchdown is impressive for any team, let along a program like Indiana. Expectations were sky high heading into 2021 with that massive Big Ten season and 17 starters back yet the Hoosiers got nothing going and had their worst season since 2011 when they went 1-11. Head coach Tom Allen put together a very respectable 24-21 record in his first four seasons, the best four-year run since the early 90s, and just like that a 2-10 mark has put the Hoosiers back to familiar territory. OffenseIndiana was coming off a pair of seasons where it averaged 32.6 ppg and 30.1 ppg and with eight starters back, the Hoosiers were ready to take off. Instead, they averaged 17.2 ppg and 290.0 ypg, No. 123 and No. 124 in the country respectively and now more questions than answers await. Part of the issue was they could not stay healthy, namely at quarterback where Michael Penix, Jr. played only five games and there was no semblance of a running game. There is a three-man competition led by Connor Bazelak to try and get the offense moving again but it will not come easy. The top two receivers are gone and transfers will try and take on two of the three top spots and as for the running game, it is a similar story with the top two backs elsewhere. The offensive line was awful and this is where the turnaround has to start and it will be a challenge with a mix of new and old. DefenseThe defense was better but it would have taken a miracle effort to make up for the lack of offense and that obviously did not happen. While they allowed only seven more ypg from 2020, they gave up nearly two touchdowns more per contest and the Big Ten ate them alive. Like the offense, transfers will be a big part of the unit and there are pieces in place to get better. The strength is in the secondary with three starters back but they need to improve on the five interceptions gained last season, No. 120 in the nation. The rushing defense was not horrible but it has to do a better job at the point of contact as there were too many missed tackles. The defensive line will have at least three transfers to try and solve the issues as well as getting to the quarterback where it was No. 114 with just 17 sacks. The linebacking corps lost its best player but there is depth in the middle. 2022 Season OutlookAllen was getting all sorts of praise after his first four seasons but it does not take long for the critics to speak out and while his job is not in jeopardy, something good has to go their way to avoid another extended freefall. While the conference was better last season, losing nine games by an average of 24.7 ppg is inexcusable and it does not get much easier this season. Indiana opens the season at home against Illinois which is a big game for both teams to get out to a strong start and then it hosts Idaho and Western Kentucky in a revenge game for the Hilltoppers, the lone FBS win for Indiana last season. The Big Ten slate is manageable early but closes with four brutal matchups. The O/U win total is set at 4 which looks spot on as there are four games that stand out as wins on paper so it will take a couple strong efforts on the road to climb over that mark and compete for a bowl. 

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2022 Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2022

Illinois Fighting Illini2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (4-5 Big Ten) - 7-4-1 ATS - 3-8-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 6OverviewRough times continue in Champaign as it was another losing season in 2021, the 10th straight for the Illini although two of those were .500 seasons that ended in a bowl loss. Illinois has not finished in the final rankings since 2007 when it finished No. 20 in the AP Poll which was also the last season it had more than seven wins. The Lovie Smith experiment failed and Illinois brought in a successful former Big Ten coach in Bret Bielema and his first season was far from horrible at 5-7 but he inherited a roster that had 17 starters and was loaded with seniors but despite a decent number coming back in 2022, it is not close to the same scenario. Bielema fell into a great situation following the great Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin but this is a totally different culture, one that really should be better where it is located. Another non-bowl season is likely but this could be the right guy. OffenseFour of the seven losses came by one possession and that was because of an offense that could not score and Illinois went through a stretch where it scored 17 or fewer points in six of eight games after putting up 30 points in each of its first two games. The Illini were No. 117 in scoring offense and No. 111 in total offense but it will be better if the quarterback play can show some consistency. Artur Sitkowski opened the season as the starter and completed only 50 percent of his passes for 704 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions before getting hurt and he will be challenged by Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito who is capable. Whoever gets the starting nod will have the leading receiver back in Isaiah Williams as well as leading rusher in Chase Brown who ran for 1.005 yards. The offensive line will be a work in progress but Bielema is known for maximum production.  DefenseThe defense was extremely potent as it allowed only 21.9 ppg which was No. 31 overall and Illinois allowed over 100 fewer ypg that it did in 2021 and a solid core is back. The defensive line caused havoc with pressure on the quarterback which helped out the passing defense that was No. 44 in the country but the rushing defense needs to shore up after giving up 151.4 ypg. The Illini had 30 sacks which was No. 49 in the nation which was the most for the program in a decade and there is a ton of depth as 14 players registered at least one sack with a lot of those returning. However, the two top linebackers are gone and while they are deep at the position, there is not a ton of long-term playing time. The secondary held their own but their leading interceptor is gone and safety Sydney Brown will lead the unit after registering a team high 81 tackles last season. 2022 Season OutlookThe problem for Illinois last season was a 1-4 start with three of those losses coming by a combined 14 points. The Illini recovered well with four wins in seven games down the stretch including wins over Penn St. and Minnesota as double-digit underdogs and that is a huge thing that can carry a young team into the next season. Bielema has the staff in place for success and his recruiting should get better in a place that is surrounded by star talent out of high school. A good start to the season should take place with home games against Wyoming, Virginia and Chattanooga as well as its conference opener at Indiana which can be won. The Big Ten schedule features four home games against teams with projected wins of 7.5, not easy. The O/U win total is 4.5 and while the early games are winnable, the latter 2/3 of them are a beast and it will take major upsets to get to the over. 

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2022 Houston Cougars Preview

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2022

Houston Cougars2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (8-0 AAC) - 8-6-0 ATS - 8-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 6OverviewHouston dropped its opener against Texas Tech and then it ran off 11 straight wins before getting clobbered by Cincinnati in the AAC Championship. It was a very successful season at 12-2 after a couple down years to rebuild and the Cougars remain an elite force in the AAC heading into this season. Tom Herman went 22-4 in two seasons before leaving for Texas and while Major Applewhite had two winning seasons, Dana Holgorsen was hired in 2019 and he proved his worth in 2021 and looks to continue the success before heading to the Big XII next season. 13 starters return with balance on both sides of the ball and the Cougars are ranked No. 34 in the nation in returning production so they are poised once again to roll through the AAC and set up a date for another championship game with Cincinnati as they do not play in the regular season for a second straight year. OffenseThe Cougars offense was very good as they averaged 416.0 ypg and 37.3 ppg, No. 30 and No. 14 in the country respectively. The bookend losses against Texas Tech and Cincinnati saw them score just 21 and 20 points and managed a mere 17 points in its bowl game win but was explosive everywhere else. Seven starters are back including quarterback Clayton Tune who threw for 3,544 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and he is now back for his fifth season and can be even better. He has his favorite target back in Nathaniel Dell who had 1,179 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns with plenty of pieces behind him. The offensive line gets three starters back and a massive transfer from Texas but the offense did take a huge hit as running back Alton McCaskill tore his ACL in the offseason and his 883 yards and 16 touchdowns will have to be replaced. DefenseIt was a huge turnaround for the defense that had nine starters back for a second straight season and it improved by 169 total yards and 14 points over the last two seasons. They finished No. 6 in total defense and led the nation in third down defense and while only six starters are back in 2022, the cupboard is full on all levels. Leading tackler Donovan Mutin is back in his leading linebacker role and there is plenty of depth around him. The defensive line is loaded with talent and it starts with ends Derek Parish and D'Anthony Jones who combined for 11 sacks and 67 tackles and will once again be an integral part of the stout rushing defense. The passing defense finished No. 14 in efficiency and Houston is led by safety Gervarrius Owens who made the All AAC First Team and while both starting corners are gone, there is depth here just like everywhere else. 2022 Season OutlookA repeat of last season would be difficult for a lot of teams, especially losing a decent amount of starting players and a pair of massive playmakers but Houston is in good shape to be just as good in its final season in the AAC. Granted it is a weak conference so getting through that has not been an issue for most of its nine years but last season was special and with a weaker Cincinnati team, this could be the year which would make a great sendoff. The schedule does not open easy as the Cougars are on the road at a sneaky good UTSA team and then at Texas Tech. The nonconference slate closes with home games against cupcakes Kansas and Rice. The AAC schedule is what it is but four tough road games await. The O/U win total is set at 9 which is aggressive but missing Cincinnati and UCF is important and it will take a big road performance for them to surpass the nine wins. 

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2022 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Preview

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2022

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (3-5 MWC West) - 5-7-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 2OverviewAfter a solid three-year run with a cumulative 23-15 record from 2018-2020, last season was average as Hawaii went 6-7 and missed out on a bowl game after three in a row. However, it was more than just the record as head coach Todd Graham lasted only two seasons as he was let go following misconduct in the program that included player abuse. A slew of players left the team because of him and now former Rainbow Timmy Chang takes over in one of the biggest rebuilds in the country. The Warriors have the second lowest returning production in the nation as they return only six starters along with many others missing from a very good roster that had potential to be good going forward. The one positive is another 13-game schedule that is far from difficult including seven home games and a quick start should take place which could add confidence heading into MWC time. OffenseThis was a middle of the road offense last season and with only four returning starters, work needs to be done. The strength will be the offensive line as three starters are back in a new scheme under offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker and the line will be asked to hold the unit together until the chemistry falls into place. The quarterback situation is unsettled heading into fall camp as the battle will come down to Brayden Schager, who had saw limited action last season and incoming transfer Cammon Cooper from Washington St. who worked in a similar high potent offense. Someone will have to emerge at wide receiver as the three top pass catchers are gone with Zion Bowens and his 257 receiving yards likely being the leading candidate. Dedrick Parson returns as the leading back after rushing for 618 yards and eight touchdowns while also securing 279 receiving yards. DefenseThe defense was awful, especially defending the pass and immediate changes are on the way. Everyone from the secondary is gone that allowed 289.7 ypg which was No. 126 in the country but they did have 14 interceptions yet none of that matters now as Hawaii is hoping some transfers can plug the holes. Linebacker Penei Pavihi saw action in 12 of 13 games and is one veteran who can take over as the leader of the defense but needs help around him, especially in pass coverage. The defensive line is the one area that Hawaii does have experience coming back as Blessman Ta'ala and John Tuitupou are both seniors and will anchor the inside. The defensive ends are a different story however as the depth chart shows no one as a starter and the roster is small and inexperienced. The hope is the offense can score enough to take pressure off the defense. 2022 Season OutlookThe passing offense was decent under Graham but we will see a different look going back to the days when Chang led the offense from 2000-2004 and is still the leading passer in program history. It might take some time for the unit to hit its stride but the Warriors will take chances and it will be at least entertaining. While there are seven home games, there is not a big edge as Hawaii is playing in a 9,000 seat facility until the new Aloha Stadium is complete. Vanderbilt, Duquesne and New Mexico St. are three of the first five foes with Michigan and Western Kentucky sandwiched in so a 3-2 start is likely. The MWC slate is doable at home with Utah St. the only big challenge but the road portion is tough. The O/U win total is 4.5 and Hawaii does have an opportunity to go over that as long as it avoids the upsets and can steal a road win at either Colorado St. or San Jose St.

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2022 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2022

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 ACC Coastal) - 4-8-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 3OverviewApparently, eight seasons of .500 or better in 11 years for Paul Johnson as the head coach of the Yellow Jackets was not good enough as he was canned after the 2018 season and the Georgia Tech brass has to be kicking themselves. Geoff Collins was hired after two successful campaigns at Temple and nothing has gone right. He has gone 9-25 in three years and after ending last season with six straight losses including getting shutout against Notre Dame and Georgia in the final two games by a combined 100-0, the fact he still has a job is a little shocking. He did what a lot of coaches do and that is clean house with his coaching staff to shift some of the blame but that is not going to cure what is going on here. This is certainly the last stand and it could end early as the first part of the schedule is vicious as a 1-4 start is the odds on favorite and an interim coach will likely take over. OffenseThe running game used to be the bread and butter of this offense but that has fallen off dramatically. While it has not been horrible, averaging 4.7 ypc over the last two seasons, a shift to a pro style offense has taken away more opportunities and the quarterback play has been underwhelming. The Yellow Jackets finished No. 95 in in passing offense behind Jeff Sims who threw for only 1,468 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The problem was the inability to convert on third down as they succeeded on only 35.4 percent of their tries which was No. 101 in the nation. He has the ability but he needs to execute better and a lot of that will come down to the offensive line as they will be replacing three starters with incoming transfers. The top two rushers are gone and the receivers are good enough to make big plays but have yet to show it so it all has to come together quick. DefenseThe defense has been consistent the last two seasons, consistently poor, averaging three fewer yards and points per game last season than in 2020 but the season averages of 456.1 ypg and 33.5 ppg were No. 117 and No. 112 respectively. Only three starters return and that could be a good thing for a defense that was so bad as a full rebuild could produce improvements. The two top players are gone via the draft and the Yellow Jackets also lost two key players to transfer and the biggest challenge will be in the secondary. They were the worst team in the country in passing efficiency defense as they allowed a whopping completion percentage of 65.3 percent, 28 touchdowns and had only three interceptions. The best returning player is linebacker Charlie Thomas and after that, it is a bunch of young players and incoming transfers that will be a work in progress from the start. 2022 Season OutlookCollins came into a decent situation and the last two seasons, he had 19 and 18 starters return but the results were no where near expectations. The pressure is on with basically a new roster and he will have to work some magic to sniff .500 if he can make it through the season. Opening the year with Clemson as a 19-point underdog is not ideal and after a home game against FCS Western Carolina, the Yellow Jackets host Mississippi before heading to UCF and Pittsburgh, hence the likely 1-4 start. Getting Duke at home will be only time they will be favored the rest of the way and the road slate in the ACC is difficult with the other home games coming against Virginia and Miami. The O/U win total is 3.5 and the under seems like the logical choice but there is not a whole lot of room to cash that as an upset or two will doom that yet that is impossible to predict at this point. 

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2022 Georgia St. Panthers Preview

Saturday, Jul 16, 2022

Georgia St. Panthers2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (6-2 SBC East) - 9-4-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewIt was a rough start into the FBS ranks for Georgia St. as it went 1-23 in its first two seasons but then put together a .500 season and its first bowl game but the wheels fell off again as a 2-8 start in 2016 cost head coach Trent Miles his job. Shawn Elliott took over and promptly put the Panthers back into the postseason and after a hiccup in 2018, it has been three straight winning seasons, finishing 21-15 overall. Another big season is expected and that could gobble up Elliott for a bigger job but first things first, Georgia St. will be looking for its first ever trip to the SBC Championship game. The Panthers have done a great job in getting a lot of players on the field as this is the fourth straight season they have at least 15 returning starters at their disposal and that is the exact number in 2022. The schedule is not in their favor but a veteran group can get past that. OffenseDespite a very unbalanced offense, the Panthers did just enough and relied on the other side for a lot of their victories. They finished No. 9 in rushing offense with 224.2 ypg but the passing game left a lot to be desired, averaging 158 ypg, good for just No. 119 in the nation. Darren Grainger took every regular season snap and threw for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions but he completed just 58 percent of his passes for 1,512 yards and Georgia St. will look for more production out of him this season. He is a duel threat that has plenty of downfield options, he just has to be more accurate. Four of five starters are back on the offensive line that did a solid job in protection while creating running lanes and the unit should be even better. Running backs Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams both return after combining for 1,709 yards and 19 touchdowns. DefenseWhen the offense was not in top form, the defense led the way especially down the stretch. The overall numbers were not great as the Panthers finished No. 86 in total defense and No. 81 in scoring defense. They allowed 38 ppg in their first five games, which actually included a nine-point effort against Charlotte, but they improvement immensely by giving up only 20.3 ppg over the final eight games. Seven starters are back and the goal is more consistency from the start and Georgia St. will rely on a strong linebacking corps led by Blake Carroll and Jordan Veneziale who combined for 169 tackles and 9.5 sacks. The rushing defense was decent as they allowed 147.4 ypg which was No. 56 in the country and they need a bigger push from the defensive line. The secondary was lit up numerous times but a lot of that was due to teams needing to pass because of being down. 2022 Season OutlookThe Sun Belt has produced many coaches that had great success and moved on to much bigger jobs and Elliott could be the next in line although he is under contract until 2024 after signing an extension. But bigger jobs do not always pan out and he does seem content at the goal at hand. The Panthers opened 1-4 last season and getting off to a strong start this year will be difficult as they open with a game at South Carolina and then host North Carolina to start a stretch of three straight home games that also includes Charlotte and Coastal Carolina. A trip to Army concludes the nonconference schedule and the final seven Sun Belt games are not overly tough but a trip to Appalachian St. is a brutal one. The Panthers O/U win total is 7.5 which is attainable but it will likely take an early upset or two and with this much experience and an improved offense, it is very doable. 

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2022 Georgia Southern Eagles Preview

Saturday, Jul 16, 2022

Georgia Southern Eagles2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 SBC East) - 6-6-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewGeorgia Southern made noise in its first season as an FBS team as it went 9-3 including an 8-0 record in the Sun Belt under head coach Willie Fritz and he followed that up with a 9-4 record in 2015 and then he bolted to Tulane. Tyson Summers did not last two seasons before getting the hook and Chad Lunsford then put together three winning seasons before getting the early pink slip last season. This shows the coaching carousel for the Eagles as they have not had a chance to gain any continuity so now it is up to Clay Helton to make his mark. Despite 17 starters back in 2021, Georgia Southern fell flat with a 3-9 record and had just its second losing season in the conference but it looks to be in prime shape for another winning run with a very experienced team that is ranked No. 6 in returning production. It will be back to basics to get its powerful rushing attack running downhill again. OffenseGeorgia Southern averaged at least 222 yards rushing in its first seven seasons of existence but put up only 194.9 ypg and we will see a more balanced attack that will actually help the running game. Eight starters are back and they get a boost at quarterback with Kyle Vantrease transferring in from Buffalo after throwing for 1,861 yards in split time. He can have immediate success in this spread attack as he has been around the block for five seasons and will have a plethora of receivers to throw to that are experienced and fast. Their leading rusher is gone but backups Gerald Green and Jalen White ran for a combined 806 yards and nine touchdowns so there is not a significant drop off plus Vantrease can run. Georgia Southern has always relied on a powerful offensive line and while that fell off last season, it is in good shape with four returning starters that will get more of a push. DefenseDefense has been a strength throughout the years but last season was a disaster as the Eagles allowed 441.7 ypg which was No. 109 in the country as teams were able to throw all over the place. The one strength was they limited opponents to 152.4 ypg on the ground which is not great but it is a starting point and the defensive line brings back a ton of experience to get a greater push. Georgia Southern finished with 26 sacks which was No. 69 in the nation and coupled with a linebacking corps that gained a lot of playing time, the front seven can cause some havoc. The Eagles lost a pair of linebackers to the transfer portal but there is plenty in place to make that up. The secondary will be tested after last season but they will be a lot better with three starters back, led by safety Anthony Wilson who was the team leader in tackles, and corner Derrick Canteen who is back to full health. 2022 Season OutlookHelton inherits a good situation so there should be a quick turnaround and while getting a big name coach at a small school is ideal, the longer the success, the quicker a bigger job comes along. But it is about the present and the staff and roster are in place for the Eagles to make a run at the SBC Championship and getting back to a bowl game after missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2017. The Eagles open with Morgan St. before a couple testers at Nebraska and UAB before closing the nonconference season at home against Ball St. The conference slate is a bear with six of eight games against teams that had winning records last season although two of those are newcomers James Madison and Marshall. The O/U win total is 4.5 and we can see this one going over with five winnable home games and a couple really good chances on the road.  

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2022 Georgia Bulldogs Preview

Saturday, Jul 16, 2022

Georgia Bulldogs2021-22 Season Record 14-1 (8-0 SEC East) - 9-6-0 ATS - 8-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 3OverviewFor 41 years after winning the 1980 National Championship, there have been some dominant seasons for Georgia but it was never able to get over the top, finishing in the top 4 five times until last season when the Bulldogs brought home its second National Championship. They took out conference nemesis Alabama despite getting outgained and it was well deserved after being dominant until the SEC Championship so they extracted their revenge at the best time. Georgia lost a lot in the offseason with numerous players going to the NFL and a handful transferring out but it is still loaded with talent and has every opportunity to repeat but it will not be easy as it never is for any team trying to go back-to-back. Another double-digit win season is expected and another date with Alabama in the SEC Championship is in the cards but the Bulldogs have to avoid any sort of complacency. OffenseThe Georgia offense finished No. 13 overall and No. 7 in scoring but were just No. 53 in passing and No. 29 in rushing as the defense made things a lot easier. Seven starters are back so there is plenty of experience to build on and it starts with quarterback Stetson Bennett who is unbelievably back for his sixth season in the program. He was great in the regular season as he threw for 2,325 yards with 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions and proved his worth with a spectacular playoff run. His leading receiver was tight end Brock Bowers and he returns with a solid group of returning wide receivers sans Jermaine Burton who transferred to Alabama of all places. The two top rushers are gone but the next two in line are expected to not miss a beat. The offensive line brings back three starters and a fourth that saw plenty of time so pass protection and open holes will be there again. DefenseMassive hits affect the defense as eight starters are gone from the No. 2 overall defense and No. 1 scoring defense but like last year when only five starters returned and Georgia simply reloaded, it will repeat the scenario. The defensive line arguably took the biggest hit but Georgia has Jalen Carter back who is a projected first round draft pick to lead the unit. The Bulldogs could have been even more depleted but linebackers Nolan Smith and Robert Beal Jr. decided to come back although talent was certainly lost as three linebackers were drafted. There is plenty waiting in the wings to pick up the slack as there was a lot of rotation with underclassmen getting substantial time. The secondary has to replace two starters but safety Chris Smith is back for his fifth season while cornerback Kelee Ringo also returns. There will be a defensive drop off overall, but it should not be much. 2022 Season OutlookHead coach Kirby Smart did something in six seasons that the great Mark Richt could not accomplish in 15 years and while the pressure is off, the quest for a legacy is starting. The bulls-eye is on every jersey so Georgia will get the best out of every team but most will not be able to compete. The schedule sets up for another big run as the Bulldogs have only four true road games while missing four of the top five teams out of the SEC West including Alabama. They open with a neutral game against Oregon and then get Samford and Kent St. at home sandwiched around a road game against South Carolina. The rest of the SEC slate is pretty tame until road games at Mississippi St. and Kentucky close the schedule and both will not be easy. The O/U win total is 10.5 and this is an unbettable number as the Bulldogs could surely run the table but also have a couple slipups if the new group cannot gel. 

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2022 Fresno St. Bulldogs Preview

Saturday, Jul 16, 2022

Fresno St. Bulldogs2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 MWC West) - 9-4-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewIt has been a roller coaster for Fresno St. since entering the MWC in 2012 as it has had five winning seasons, including four double-digit win campaigns, four losing seasons and a .500 finish during the shortened COVID year. The Bulldogs finished a game out of first place behind San Diego St. in the MWC West Division and advanced to the New Mexico Bowl where they defeated UTEP. Head coach Kalen DeBoer left the program prior to the bowl game as he went to Washington and Fresno St. rehired Jeff Tedford who took two years off from coaching and he was responsible for two of those double-digit victory seasons. He inherits a roster loaded with talent with 15 returning starters that will give San Diego St. another run in the division. The Bulldogs are No. 21 in returning production and have a favorable conference schedule that could get them to a conference championship. OffenseThe offense was fun to watch last season as the Bulldogs finished No. 14 in the country in total yards and No. 28 in scoring offense. Led by quarterback Jake Haener, who has been very efficient the last two seasons, the passing game has taken off and now going into his third season as the starter, the Bulldogs should keep rolling. He threw for 3,810 yards on a 67.5 percent completion rate while tossing 32 touchdowns with nine interceptions, seven coming in two games, and has most everything back around him. His top two receivers in Jalen Cooper and Josh Kelly are back after combining for 1,595 yards and 14 touchdowns so the passing offense that finished No. 9 in the nation will be just as potent. The offensive line is experienced with three starters back along with a key transfer coming in and will look to open holes for Jordan Mims who takes over as the starter after 545 yards last season. DefenseThe defense did its job last season as Fresno St. finished No. 31 overall and No. 21 in points allowed and should be even better this year. The top three tacklers are back as Evan Williams, Malachi Langley and Levelle Bailey combined for 192 tackles during the regular season and will be a force once again. The defensive line is formidable but does have some work to do after losing Arron Mosby, who was second on the team with five sacks, and the run defense has to sustain its presence after finishing No. 24 in the nation in yards allowed with 127.3 ypg, nearly a 90-yard improvement per game from 2020. Langley and Bailey anchor the linebacking corps and the unit gets stronger thanks to the transfer portal. The secondary was the weakness but still finished No. 45 in passing yards allowed and with three starters back, they look to surpass their 11 interceptions from last year. 2022 Season OutlookTedford brought a winning culture into the program following a 4-20 combined record in two seasons prior to his arrival and being in better shape in his second stint should keep that going. The No. 18 final AP Poll ranking in 2018 was the highest in program history and they can be better than that team. The Bulldogs open with Cal Poly before squaring off against a pair of Pac 12 opponents, at home against Oregon St. and then at USC with the latter being a game that could make it a special season with a win. They open the MWC season with a tough game at Boise St. but after that, there is only one real roadblock and that is a home game against San Deigo St. that could decide the division in late October. The O/U win total is 8.5 which is big but the over is very attainable as long as Fresno St. can avoid an upset like the one they suffered last season at Hawaii. They are right in the mix again. 

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2022 FIU Golden Panthers Preview

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2022

Florida International Golden Panthers2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (0-8 C-USA East) - 3-9-0 ATS - 8-4-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 4OverviewDespite returning 19 starters last season, it was a miserable 2021 for the Golden Panthers as they went 1-11 including going winless in the conference. The lone victory came against Long Island in the season opener and while there were a few narrow defeats, most were not even close as they were outscored by an average of over 20 ppg. After five straight losing seasons, head coach Butch Davis put together a 22-14 regular season record over the next three years including three bowl games and then COVID hit and Florida International went 0-5 in 2020, carrying that into last season. Mike MacIntyre takes over after spending time at San Jose St. and Colorado and while success will not come overnight, it was quick rebuilds at those previous stops. He does not have much to work with and it could be another long season but the Golden Panthers could have the right guy in place. OffenseThe offense could not keep up last season despite 10 starters coming back as Florida International finished No. 91 in total offense and No. 115 in scoring offense. It brings back only five starters this season and is pretty much starting over. Coming into fall camp, Gunnar Holmberg looks to take over at quarterback after coming over from Duke where he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,358 yards but had only seven touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions but he has a chance for success in a new up tempo offense. Leading receiver Tyrese Chambers and his 1,074 yards are back along with a slew of transfers for him to get the ball to if he can stay upright as the Golden Panthers allowed 41 sacks last season. The offensive line is a rebuild with two starters back and the running game needs a boost as well with the leading returning back having just 273 yards. DefenseWhile the offense was bad last season, the defense was even worse as the Golden Panthers were ranked No. 115 or worse in all four major defensive categories. There is very little experience on this side at all three levels and the defensive line is the strength heading into the season, if you can call it a strength. There was no pass rush to speak of as Florida International generated only 15 sacks, tied for No. 122 in the country which led opposing quarterbacks having their way downfield. That was the problem for the secondary as they allowed 262.8 ypg and have to replace both corners while the safeties have limited experience. The top four tacklers are gone which puts pressure on the linebackers that are young and inexperienced and the leader could be Donovan Manuel, a transfer from East Tennessee St. They had just eight takeaways and that needs to substantially increase. 2022 Season OutlookFor a team that has gone 1-17 over its last 18 games, not much can be expected and that is the case here for the Golden Panthers that are building for the future. Almost everything is brand new from top to bottom and MacIntyre has been here before and has succeeded so gradual progress is all that can be asked for at this point. Like last season, they open with a team from the FCS, a home game against Bryant but then it is three straight road games sandwiched around a bye although two of those are against teams in similar situations. A nonconference home game against Connecticut follows and there are two or three possible wins in those first five games. The remainder of the C-USA slate is not horrible but will be difficult to navigate. The O/U win total is 3 and that is right where it should be so it will take some upsets to surpass it and while unlikely, it is possible. 

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2022 Florida St. Seminoles Preview

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2022

Florida St. Seminoles2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (4-4 ACC Atlantic) - 6-6-0 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 9OverviewTimes have changed in the Sunshine State as the powerhouses consisting of Florida St., Miami, Fla. and Florida have taken a fall and the Seminoles might be at the top of that list based on recent play. They are coming off a 5-7 season after a 0-4 start and it is surprising that head coach Mike Norvell was not let go right then and there. It has been a bad run, the worst in nearly a half century as Florida St. has had four straight losing seasons for the first time since 1973-1976 and that 1976 season was their last sub-.500 one before this current run started. They have gone four straight years without bringing in a five-star recruit so the rosters are not what they used to be. There is some good news as the Seminoles did have an above average recruiting class, they bring back 18 starters and are No. 11 in the country in returning production. The pressure is on Norvell to win big. OffenseWhen you score 17 points in the second game of the season against Jacksonville St., you know the offense is in trouble. The Seminoles ended up ranked No. 85 in total offense and No. 73 in scoring offense and that was with 10 starters coming back. They are one shy of that this season so now there is no excuse. Quarterback Jordan Travis was decent but did not put up big numbers as expected as he threw for only 1,539 yards just 15 touchdowns but did rush for 530 yards so he can do it both ways but there needs to be more of a downfield threat. There is good experience at wide receiver but there was not a go to target as their leading receiver was Ontaria Wilson with 382 yards and he does return. The running game is stable despite losing their leading rusher and will be behind an offensive line that was inconsistent but is experienced and will be better in pass protection. DefenseThe defense had its best season during this four-year losing run as they allowed 377.8 ypg but that was still only No. 65 in the nation which shows how really bad it was before that. Like the offense, nine starters are back so there needs to be a substantial improvement and we are not talking glory days improvement but cracking the top 30 should not be an issue. One of the positives was that Florida St. had 33 sacks which was tied for No. 36 in the country but they have to replace 18 of those from the two defensive end positions. They should be ok as there was a solid rotation across the front four and three of the top four tacklers from last season are back, all from each level. The linebackers are in good shape led by Kalen DeLoach who tied for third in tackles. The passing defense was ranked No. 75 and needs to take advantage of the help from the pass rush if it comes through. 2022 Season OutlookNorvell was a terrific coach at Memphis where he went 38-16 in four seasons and finished ranked twice in the AP Top 25. His offenses were ranked No. 5, No. 40 and No. 14 in three of his four seasons and wants to get the Seminoles up to that level. Some thought that would transpire last season but it actually regressed from his first season despite more experience and it should come together in 2022. Florida St. opens with Duquesne before a neutral site game against LSU in New Orleans and then it is eight straight ACC games. The first five are against teams projected to have winning records but three of those are at home against Boston College, Wake forest and Clemson and they end the season at home against Louisiana and Florida. The O/U win total of 6.5 is very attainable if the projected pieces stay together and Florida St. avoids another 0-4 start to the season. 

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2022 Florida Atlantic Owls Preview

Saturday, Jul 09, 2022

Florida Atlantic Owls2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 C-USA East) - 4-7-1 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 7OverviewAfter starting off 5-3 last season, a bowl berth was looking like a sure thing but Florida Atlantic could not close the deal as it lost its final four games, all by double-digits. Lane Kiffin had a successful run with the Owls as he won 11 games in two of his three seasons and after he headed to Mississippi, Willie Taggart took over in 2020 and has gone 10-11 including a 7-7 record in C-USA. The finish to last season was brutal as the offense could get nothing going as it scored 17 points or less in all four games and while Taggart is not yet on the hot seat, it will be warming up if it does not turn around this season. The Owls had the personnel in place as they had 10 starters back on each side of the ball and they are still in good shape with another veteran team coming back. The schedule sets up well for a quick start so they can put the disastrous November in the rear view mirror.OffenseThe running game fell apart at the end of last season as the Owls averaged 77 ypg on the ground over the last three games and that put a ton of pressure on quarterback N'Kosi Perry who could not make the plays when needed. He was solid overall last season as he threw for 2,771 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions and is poised to be even better in his second season in the system. He has a lot to work with because his two top receivers are back as LaJohntay Wester and Je'Quan Burton combined for 1,185 yards and seven touchdowns and the only issue is depth following those two. Perry will be working behind an offensive line that is experienced and deep with four starters returning which will help the protection after allowing 35 sacks last season, tied for 109th most in the nation. Johnny Ford returns at running back after averaging 6.3 ypc. DefenseThe defense comes back with a lot of experience as well with seven starters back but three of the top four tacklers are gone. The Owls were ranked No. 88 in total defense last season and like the offense, it collapsed toward the end of the season. The front seven is loaded with four starters and a couple transfers looking to improve in both areas, especially with the pass rush. Florida Atlantic had only 16 sacks last year which was tied for No. 118 in the country and it needs to get a bigger push into the backfield as it has the size and strength to do so. The defense allowed 846 rushing yards against Florida and Air Force and only 1,038 against everyone else. The linebacking corps returns two starters and a pair of SEC transfers makes this a deep rotation that will improve the numbers from last year. The secondary is young and could take some time to come together. 2022 Season OutlookThe move to C-USA has had its ups and downs as the Owls were 18-6 under Kiffin but have gone 18-28 in the other seven seasons and with the talent that has come through Boca Raton, this should be a lot better. The conference lost three teams to the Sun Belt so it is more wide open and the Owls have to take advantage with their talent and experience. They open the season with a conference home game against Charlotte before heading to Ohio and then back home for a game against SE Louisiana and there is no reason for them to not start 3-0. The remainder of the conference slate is not easy by any stretch but they do get the three toughest opponents at home against UCF, UAB and Western Kentucky and the only big road test is at North Texas. The O/U win total is 5.5 and the Owls should be able to surpass that as long as they do not have another epic collapse. 

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2022 Florida Gators Preview

Friday, Jul 08, 2022

Florida Gators2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (2-6 SEC East) - 3-10-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 7OverviewIt has been a nightmare in Florida since the days of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer roaming the sidelines as the Gators have been unable to find the right fit as head coach. It was another losing season for Florida and the word another was never in the vocabulary as it is now three losing years over the nine seasons. 2021 was especially bad as the Gators won two SEC games, the fewest since 1986 when they had a six-game schedule and went 2-4. Bill Napier takes over the helm after three unsuccessful coaching runs in Gainesville and he brings in a winning culture that he formed in Louisiana. He brought in some pieces with him and while it could take some time, the hope is that the Gators brass finally hit the home run. They have just 13 starters back but some key pieces from Louisiana came over and Florida had the No. 17 ranked recruiting class for the upcoming season. OffenseFlorida was very good on offense as it finished No. 16 in total offense but could not generate enough points and was inconsistent when it could not be. The Gators managed to score 35 or more points six times, but just once over its last six games, against FCS Samford, and that led to the overall demise. Napier brings in a high powered scheme and he turns to Anthony Richardson to lead the offense. He was average in mop up duty last season behind Emory Jones but his abilities should make him flourish in this system. Florida lost its leading receiver in the transfer portal but has Justin Shorter to move into the top spot with plenty of depth after that. The running game has to be rehauled as the top three rushers are gone but this is another position where depth in massive. The offense will lean on a line that showed impressive progress in the spring and will be sound. DefenseThe defense improved from 2020 but was still not every good compared to previous years. The Gators finished No. 73 in scoring defense and to say they gave up late in the season would be fact as exemplified by the 52 points allowed to Samford. The defensive line was awful against the rush and mediocre getting to the quarterback but three veterans are back in what looks to be a good situation for improvement in those areas. The linebackers can pick up any slack even though they lost their best player to transfer as Florida gets back its 2020 leading tackler Ventrell Miller who missed almost all of last season and two of the top four leading tacklers are back. The passing defense was good as it finished No. 36 in yards allowed but a lot of that was due to teams running so much. The Gators had only nine interceptions which was tied for No. 80 and that has to vastly improve. 2022 Season OutlookTwo SEC wins will not cut it again and we can pretty much guarantee that is going to improve as previous head coach Dan Mullin lost his team and Napier is changing the culture for the good, at least that is the plan. If spring camp showed anything, the players are buying in. It is a very interesting schedule for the Gators in 2022 and one that could greatly benefit a team going through changes. Six of the first seven games are home as Florida opens with a brutal test against Utah and then hosts Kentucky in a revenge game before a cakewalk against USF. The Gators travel for the first time to Tennessee before three more at home, most notably LSU in another revenger. The back half is difficult with road games at Texas A&M and Florida St. and the annual neutral game against Geogia. The O/U win total is 7 and this should be a clear over thanks to the early favorable slate. 

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2022 Eastern Michigan Eagles Preview

Friday, Jul 08, 2022

Eastern Michigan Eagles2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 MAC West) - 5-8-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewBecause of the pandemic, many players took advantage of the extra year granted and a lot of teams were blessed with an abundance of returning starters in 2021, including Eastern Michigan. The Eagles brought back 10 starters on each side of the ball and used that to record a 7-5 season and make it to the Lending Tree Bowl but were promptly blown out by Liberty 56-20. Yet it was another step in the right direction for Eastern Michigan that went 28 years without going to a bowl but has gone to the postseason four of the last five campaigns, discounting the 2-4 COVID season. Head coach Chris Creighton is in his ninth season with the program and he is the second highest tenured coach in the history of the school. They have another experienced group coming back with 14 returning starters and have a viable shot and making another bowl game to keep the run going.   OffenseThe offense slipped somewhat in 2021 but not by much as the Eagles dropped by 10 ypg and three ppg from the 2010 six-game season despite almost everyone back. Eight players return on the unit this season but they have to replace quarterback Ben Bryant who threw for 2,921 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions and led Eastern Michigan to the No. 33 passing offense in the country. The situation going into 2022 probably will not be decided until fall camp as three quarterbacks will by vying for the starting job. There are plenty of targets to get the ball to as most every receiver of note is back led by Hassan Beydoun and Dylan Drummond who combined for 1,585 yards and 10 scores. A running back has to emerge as the leading rusher is gone and the No. 112 rushing offense last season should get better behind an offensive line that has four starters returning. DefenseThe stop unit is what held the Eagles back as they allowed 34 or more points in six games including four of their last five. The defense did improve from the previous season and Eastern Michigan is hoping for another year of improvement. The Eagles finished No. 104 in total defense and No. 82 in scoring defense and while only six starters are back, they are all big time players. The defensive line will be the strength with the most experience back and they have to do a better job of stopping the run as they were gashed for 200 or more yards eight times. Jose Ramirez did the best job to disrupt the opponent backfield but he cannot do it alone after finishing No. 127 in the nation with just 45 tackles for loss with Ramirez accounting for more than 25 percent of those. The secondary is the weak link coming in with only two players with starting experience so a pass rush in crucial. 2022 Season OutlookAfter a 3-21 start, Creighton has put together a 34-36 record over his last six years and no other coach has had a sustained run of even more than three years since 1988-1990 by Jim Harkema. Some say he is on the hot seat because he is 0-4 in bowl games but that is a nonsensical reason for a team that hardly ever even got there. If a quarterback can be found to run the show, the ascent should continue. The schedule sets up pretty well for the Eagles as they open against Eastern Kentucky to get ready for back-to-back road games against Louisiana and Arizona St., both likely losses but an upset is not out of the question. They are back home against Buffalo and Massachusetts so a 3-2 start is to be expected and the MAC slate is favorable with the three big games all at home. The O/U win total of 6.5 will come down to the final two road games against Akron and Kent St.  

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2022 East Carolina Pirates Preview

Friday, Jul 08, 2022

East Carolina Pirates2021-22 Season Record 7-5 (5-3 AAC) - 7-4-1 ATS - 4-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 8OverviewEast Carolina had a solid run under Skip Holtz and Ruffin McNeill from 2006 to 2014 with winning records in seven of those nine seasons and securing a bowl bid eight times. It was then a rough stretch for six straight years where the Pirates averaged 3.5 wins with the program stuck in neutral. Current head coach Mike Houston was involved in the last two of those campaigns but things got right last season as East Carolina went 7-5, securing just its second winning record in the AAC since joining the conference in 2014. The Pirates were invited to the Military Bowl to face Boston College but it was cancelled due to COVID and while they returned 10 starters on each side of the ball last year, all is not lost in 2022 as they bring back 15 starters and a returning production ranking of No. 44. This could be, and should be, the time East Carolina turns the corner now and going forward. OffenseThe Pirates finished No. 39 in the country in total offense and No. 56 in scoring offense, nearly reaching 30 ppg. The Pirates have seven starters back on offense including quarterback Holton Ahlers who had a decent season where he completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 3,126 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions but he needs to make better decisions and become a more efficient passer. He loses his top receiver but three players are back that accumulated at least 400 yards receiving so there should not be a falloff whatsoever. The running game was solid with Keaton Mitchell leading the way with 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns and backup Rahjai Harris racking up 579 yards and four scores. The offensive line brings back three players with starting experience and while they opened holes for the backs, they have to protect Ahlers as they allowed 37 sacks. DefenseThe defense had some really good games and some real clunkers as the Pirates allowed 20 points or less four times but gave up 31 or more points five times to finish No. 67 overall in scoring defense. They bring back a solid nucleus with eight returning starters and have a chance to take a big step forward. East Carolina is strong at the linebacker position with all three starters back but they need to develop a bigger pass rush as they were No. 69 in the nation in sacks but bring back a slew of players who got into the backfield on multiple occasions. The defensive line is versatile and with the exception of a few bad games, they did a good job at stopping the run, allowing 143 or fewer rushing yards in half of their games. The backfield was extremely young last season but most everyone with playing experience is back with the exception of safety Jaquan McMillian who led the team with five picks. 2022 Season OutlookThe Pirates were clutch last season with a slew of close victories, four by four points or less, but that is tough to maintain on a consistent basis. Making it to a bowl game was huge for the program and not being able to play in it will fuel the fire this season to get another shot at the postseason and the pieces are in place to do so. East Carolina opens the season with four straight home games and while the first is a doozy against NC State, it follows that up with contests against Old Dominion, Campbell and Navy with the former and latter having projected wins of 4.5. Three of the four most difficult AAC games are at home with the exception of a game at Cincinnati following a nonconference game at BYU. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and we see five likely wins on the slate so if they can upset a couple big guns at home, the Pirates may actually play a bowl game this year. 

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2022 Duke Blue Devils Preview

Friday, Jul 08, 2022

Duke Blue Devils2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (0-8 ACC Coastal) - 4-8-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewDavid Cutcliffe put together the greatest stretch in Duke football history as the Blue Devils won six games or more in six of seven seasons between 2012 and 2018. The last two seasons have seen a significant drop off as Duke has gone 5-18 including a 1-17 record in the ACC and have actually had a losing record in the conference in six straight years. Cutcliffe is gone and Duke hired Mike Elko as its 19th head coach to get the program turned around and it will start with defense which he is known for at former stops at Texas A&M and Notre Dame. The Blue Devils closed last season with eight straight losses with the defense allowing a whopping 46.6 ppg and no team can succeed with that. Only 11 starters are back in 2022 and they have one of the worst returning production rankings in the country so it could take some time for any sort of significant improvement in Durham. OffenseDespite the poor recent results, the Duke offense has increased its production over the last three seasons but scoring went down and that can normally be attributed to not making the plays on third down but the Blue Devils were efficient, ranking No. 45 in that category. The problem was turnovers as they gave it away 21 times which was tied for No. 100 in the country. The offense this season is basically starting over with new players at the key positions but they can build around an experienced offensive line that returns four starters. Duke will turn to Riley Leonard at quarterback and while he saw limited action, he had a standout game against Louisville, going 13-13 showing his accuracy. He loses his top receiver but the next three are back that combined for 1,207 yards. Running back Jordan Moore averaged 5.0 ypc in a backup role and will take over the top spot. DefenseThis is where things really need to improve. The defense was one of the worst in the country last season and one of the worst in program history as Duke was ranked No. 130 in total defense and No. 129 in scoring defense. The defensive line was a mess as there was no pass rush, finishing with only 21 sacks and they could not stop the run, allowing well over 200 ypg. This is a veteran line that needs to get significantly better in both areas. The strength will be in the middle as the linebacking corps brings back a pair of playmaking tacklers that can get to the ball and if the front four can improve, they can help out a pass defense that was atrocious. Duke was No. 123 in passing efficiency defense and the good news is that there is a complete rehaul as a fresh start in a new system can only make it better. The Blue Devils had only 14 takeaways last season and five of those came in one game. 2022 Season OutlookThere were never any real glory years for Duke football as it went to only two bowl games from 1961-2011 but a run of six in seven years showed some promise until the recent fall. Elko has his work cut out and looks to build a good foundation for the future. It has a favorable early schedule but the Blue Devils do not have a bye week until the final week in October which could go either way. They open with a home game against Temple and travel to an equally bad Northwestern team before facing North Carolina A&T at home before travelling to Kansas to close out the nonconference slate. A 4-0 start is unlikely but more that doable. In the ACC, four of the five toughest games are at home and they miss Clemson and NC State from the Atlantic. The O/U win total is set at 3 and that is a very gettable number which could be attained by October so an over will not take much after that. 

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2022 Connecticut Huskies Preview

Thursday, Jul 07, 2022

Connecticut Huskies2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (N/A) - 6-6-0 ATS - 6-5-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 8OverviewIt was another rough season for Connecticut and head coach Randy Edsall had seen enough, announcing his retirement after two games effective at the end of the season but he was not given that as he was let go immediately. The Huskies finished 1-11, the only win coming against Yale of the FCS and they have gone 4-32 over the last four years including 2020 where they did not even take a snap. Only one win over this span was over an FBS team, Massachusetts, which is just as bad. They have won more than three games only once since 2013 which resulted in a 6-7 season and the last winning record came in the days of the Big East. Jim Mora, Jr. takes over as head coach and he is in a decent situation for improvement as he has a lot coming back but as is the case sometimes, more can be less and it is difficult to get rid of poison left in a program but maybe Mora, Jr. has a cure. OffenseEight starters are back on an offense that was close to the worst in every major category including No. 128 in total offense and No. 129 in scoring offense. It will not get any worse but how much improvement there is comes down to the quarterback play. How bad was it? Six players took a snap last season and only one of those is back but the Huskies will rely on Penn St. transfer Ta'Quan Roberson to take over as the starter and he has a ton of potential as a duel-threat. He has a plethora of receivers to target as three of the top four are back and they also should have a healthy Cameron Ross back after missing 10 games last season after an outstanding 2019. Their leading rusher is back as well as Nate Carter rushed for 578 yards on a solid 4.6 ypc. The weakness is the offensive line with only two starters back and there will be issues if this unit cannot at least be somewhat competent.  DefenseDefensively, Connecticut was nearly as bad as the offense ranking No. 106 or worse in overall, scoring, rushing and passing defenses and those problems were similar to the other side where having a year of not hitting the field was devastating. Eight starters are back on the stop unit and a lot of young players received plenty of time last season so there is experience and finally with a year under their belt, better things should come about. The Huskies did lose their best pass rusher and only 7.5 sacks return so the defensive line is already behind the eight-ball and is the clear weakness. The secondary has a pair of upperclassmen corners and while the safeties are only sophomores, all four started last season. The strength last year were the linebackers and that will be the case again as the two top tacklers are back and Connecticut gets an SEC transfer to man the outside. 2022 Season OutlookThings have to turn around sometime or football might not be around much longer in Storrs at the top level. Clearly, Edsall was past his prime and his second stint derailed the program with possible long lasting effects. Mora, Jr. has experience at the highest of levels so his presence alone is big and should get the most out of this team. The schedule is frontloaded for failure as the Huskies travel to Utah St. in their opener but do get Central Connecticut St. at home a week later and then Syracuse before going to Michigan and NC State in back-to-back weeks. Another loss at home against Fresno St. likely ends the first half at 1-5 and while there are a couple winnable games down the stretch, it will not be easy. The O/U win total is 2.5 which seems about right but trying to figure out that third winner, let alone the second, will make over bettors sweat it out. 

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2022 Colorado Buffaloes Preview

Thursday, Jul 07, 2022

Colorado Buffaloes2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (3-6 Pac 12 South) - 6-6-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 5OverviewThere was a time when Colorado was a national force in college football back when it was part of the Big 12 and a move to the Pac 12 would have thought the Buffaloes could bring those days back. Instead, it has been nine losing seasons in 10 years not counting the 4-2 COVID-shortened campaign including a 4-8 record last season. They have gone through five coaches and in the second year of Karl Dorrell in 2011, expectations were high in Boulder as 17 starters were back but a 1-4 start derailed any of that and when they lost, they lost big with seven of the eight losses coming by at least 22 points. Dorrell is now on the clock and tried to buy some time by revamping his coaching staff but it will take a big effort to likely keep his job. The early schedule is not in their favor and with just 12 starters back and a poor recruiting class, it could be another tough season. OffenseThe offense was one of the worst in the country last season as Colorado averaged 257.4 ypg and 18.8 ppg, No. 129 and No. 121 respectively and that was with an offense with nine starters back following a breakout the previous season. The Buffaloes do bring seven starters back this season so they should see an improvement and it will come down to quarterback Brendon Lewis, that is if he even wins the job. He was unable to get the ball downfield as he averaged a paltry 5.0 ypa and threw for just 1,540 yards with 10 touchdowns and J.T. Shrout could take over coming back from injury. The running game was better, but not much, as Colorado averaged only 126.2 ypg on the ground with the leading rusher gone. The two top receivers transferred out which they cannot be blamed for, and a young group takes over. The offensive line is also a work in progress and could struggle early. DefenseDefensively, Colorado was not much better. It was ranked 91st or worse in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense and while allowing 17 points or less four times, the other eight games resulted in giving up an average of 35.8 ppg. With only five starters back, there is work to be done and that starts in the secondary. The passing defense was bad and three starters transferred out so this is a raw back end that needs to grown up in a hurry in the pass-happy Pac 12. The defensive line is big and athletic but needs to get a bigger push in not only stopping the run but getting to the quarterback as the Buffaloes had only 14 sacks, tied for No. 126 in the country. Linebacker Carson Wells and his 5.5 sacks have moved on so this group has to come up big and the whole defense needs to take the ball away more after forcing only 14 turnovers last season including just four fumbles. 2022 Season OutlookThere are some good parts in place for Colorado but not enough to contend in the South unless the quarterback situation has a miraculous turnaround. The Buffaloes are in the bottom half of the country in returning production so many newcomers will be asked to step up. The schedule sets up for a 0-4 start as they will be underdogs in all four games as they open at home against TCU as a nine-point underdog and then travel to Air Force and Minnesota to close out nonconference play. UCLA comes to visit in the Pac 12 opener and then it finally gets a quick break with games against Arizona and California before closing the season with six games against teams projected for winning seasons. The Buffaloes win total is set at 3.5 which seems about right based on the strength of this slate and it will take some upsets in the second half of the season to surpass that total. 

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2022 Colorado St. Rams Preview

Thursday, Jul 07, 2022

Colorado St. Rams2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-6 MWC Mountain) - 4-8-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewIt was a quick hook for head coach Steve Addazio who finished 3-9 in his first full season at Colorado St. and for a team that had not won more than seven games in five seasons before he arrived, it was a surprising fire. He might have just been a band-aid before the Rams got the guy they really wanted in Jay Norvell who made a lateral move in the MWC, coming over from Nevada. He went 33-26 with the Wolf Pack and while he did nothing spectacular there, Colorado St. upped the ante by offering him a $4 million raise that he could not pass up. Colorado St. was No. 57 in total offense and No. 66 in total defense last season which was not horrible but a six-game losing streak to end the year sealed the fate. The Rams have not won a bowl game since 2013 and even getting to the postseason in 2022 looks to be a challenge with all of the difficult games taking place on the road. OffenseAs mentioned, the offense was not horrible and should improve under Norvell and his wide open passing attack. Six starters return and five newcomers that will be taking over followed their coach to Colorado St. Quarterback Clay Millen only played in two games for the Wolf Pack last season but was the projected starter before making the move where he will take over right away. Along with him come two receivers in Tory Horton and Melquan Stovall who combined for 1,302 yards receiving on 11.4 yards per completion so there will be a seamless transition. The two top running backs are gone but potential is there with A'Jon Vivens and another Nevada transfer in Avery Morrow. The offensive line will be replacing four starters, all experienced transfers with two of those coming from, yes you guessed it, Nevada. It is an interesting mix but one that should prosper. DefenseThe defense was good but inconsistent last season especially down the stretch where the Rams allowed 37 ppg during the final six games. The strength is at linebacker where two of the top three returning tacklers reside and will be the core to get the unit into better situations. The defensive line features Mohamed Kamara at one end and he was a big disrupter as he had 6.5 sacks and with an upgrade on the other side, he should be even better. Overall, the Rams finished No. 24 with 83 tackles for loss and the pieces are in place for at least similar production with possible upside. Getting to the quarterback will be important with a secondary bringing in a lot of new faces. Three transfers come in to help a unit that finished No. 39 in passing defense but lost most everybody. Overall, the defense is in a good place that could improve if the chemistry holds. 2022 Season OutlookThis is a program that should be better than what has taken place over the last two decades with just one season with double-digit wins and while the Rams will not get there this season, the future looks bright with Norvell if he can bring in strong recruiting that was once one of the best in the conference. Colorado St. opens the season at Michigan as a four-touchdown underdog but then has three winnable games on deck with a matchup at Washington St. being a game that could light an early spark. Norvell then heads back to Nevada for the conference opener before a pair of home games against Utah St. and Hawaii. Three of the next four are on the road with two difficult ones at Boise St. and Air Force. The O/U win total is 5.5 and the schedule has five home games that should be won easily so it will take an upset on the road or Utah St. at home to get the over and a bowl invite. 

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2022 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Preview

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (6-2 SBC East) - 5-7-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 3OverviewIn 2020, Coastal Carolina returned 14 starters and were one of a very few amount of teams that were able to play nearly a full schedule and it took advantage by going 11-0 in the regular season before losing to Liberty by three points in the Cure Bowl. Last season, the Chanticleers had one of the most experienced teams in the country as they had 19 starters back and used that to their advantage, rolling to an 11-2 record with the two losses coming by just five points. Things will be quite a bit different this season as only seven starters are back and Coastal Carolina in the third most inexperienced team in the country as far as returning production. Head coach Jamey Chadwell is in his fifth season and while it is a young team, he and his staff are doing something right and will again be a force in the Sun Belt but the Chanticleers will get the best out of every opponent. OffenseThe offense is nearly a complete rebuild but the Chanticleers have quarterback Grayson McCall to lead the unit following a sensational 2021 season. He threw for 2,558 yards with 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions and that is with missing two games for a second straight season. His TD/INT ratio is an incredible 46/5 over that span and now we will see what he is really made of. His leading returning receiver is a running back and the most productive returning receiver is Tyson Mobley with six catches for 82 yards. Braydon Bennett had 20 catches out of the backfield and he takes over the starting job after rushing for 528 yards while averaging a robust 7.8 ypc. The rushing aspect will be just fine as the offensive line, while a redo, is experienced as there was a lot of rotation and they know the system so there should not be a regression up front. DefenseCoastal Carolina was rock solid on defense in all aspects as they were No. 17 overall and No. 19 in points allowed but like the offense, new faces will be all over. The one weakness last season was taking the ball away as they forced only 12 turnovers, No. 112 in the nation, and law of averages should up that which is a necessity. The strength will be the defensive line headlined by tackle Josaiah Stewart who had 12.5 sacks and 43 tackles and overall, there is good size and decent depth that can again create a push. The back half of the front seven is more in trouble as the linebackers are very inexperienced and will be learning on the fly but being in the system for most of the potential starters is a plus. The secondary was also decimated with just one starter back and there is corner depth but the inside will need playmakers to step up. This is likely a unit that will fall off. 2022 Season OutlookFor a team that has played only five seasons at this level, the last two years have been pretty amazing even though the success has mostly come in the Sun Belt. The Chanticleers were 6-18 in their first three years in the conference and have gone 14-2 over the last two seasons and while there should be fewer wins, how many is debatable. Coaching has clearly played a big part in the success and this will be the biggest challenge for Chadwell but a big fall is unlikely. Coastal Carolina opens the season with a tough game against Army, part of three straight home games before conference play begins. Three of the four conference road games are against three of the worst teams and they get Appalachian St. at home. The O/U win total is 8 and this one looks like a crapshoot as we most likely will not know this team because of the turnover until after the first month is complete. 

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2022 Clemson Tigers Preview

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

Clemson Tigers2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 ACC Atlantic) - 5-8-0 ATS - 4-8-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 9Defense - 6OverviewMost any team would take back-to-back 10-win seasons but those can be considered downers for Clemson after having won at least 12 games in the previous five campaigns. Still very damn good and the Tigers will look to extend their 11 consecutive double-digit win seasons in 2022 and they once again have the firepower to do so. Last year was the first one since 2014 that Clemson was not ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll at some point in the season as it got to No. 3 and finished No. 14, the third lowest in the 11 years. Head coach Dabo Swinney has built one of the best programs in the country and it is not going anywhere as it should roll through the ACC once again with a loaded roster that will improve in areas it fell short in 2021. The Tigers have the fourth lowest odds to win the National Championship at +1,000 so expectations remain sky high along with the other usual suspects. OffenseThe offense was easily the downfall for Clemson as it was No. 95 in total offense and No. 79 in scoring offense as it had its worst quarterback play in quite some time. D.J. Uiagalelei was bad as he completed only 54.7 percent of his passes while throwing nine touchdowns and nine interceptions and while he will come in as the starter unless fall camp is a disaster, he needs to pick it up with Cade Klubnik, a five-star recruit from Austin who bucked the Longhorns, ready and waiting. There are big time playmakers at receiver to get the ball to as the top target is gone but the next two in line in Joseph Ngata and Beaux Collins return. The running game was decent with Will Shipley and Kobe Pace sharing the carries and putting up 1,268 yards and should evolve more behind a veteran offensive line that did its job and will be better in opening holes and pass protection. DefenseClemson has had a slight drop off on defense the last two seasons but very slight and it finished No. 9 overall and No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing only 15.0 ppg. The Tigers bring back six starters and while the two top tacklers have moved on, they are loaded at every level. The strength is the defensive line with four potential NFL players manning a great run stopping unit and the ability to get to the quarterback. Clemson finished No. 8 in rushing defense and had 42 sacks which was tenth most in the nation so they will once again be all over the place in opponent backfields. Some key losses took place in the linebacking corps but there is experience and of course talent. Clemson was not great against the pass last year and have a bunch to replace as it lost both corners but just like every level, the newcomers are not green and should step in and be just fine. 2022 Season OutlookClemson has been so good and so dominant that it has been an underdog during the regular season only two times since 2015 and despite all of the chalk, they are still up in the money. The Tigers closed last season with six straight wins and they can carry that into this season although momentum is not an issue. They open with a conference game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta and then have a pair of nonconference home games against Furman and Louisiana Tech before going fully into the ACC. Three of the next four games are on the road with a couple small tests but nothing they should not get through. The final four conference games are at home with a game at Notre Dame mixed in and that could decide CFP or bust since it is in November. The O/U wins are at 10.5 and while that is big, they will be favored in every game with ND possibly an exception. 

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2022 Cincinnati Bearcats Preview

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

Cincinnati Bearcats2021-22 Season Record 13-1 (8-0 AAC) - 9-5-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 5Overview2021 was a season of firsts for Cincinnati as it won a program best 13 games and became the first non-power conference team to make the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats have gone 44-7 over the last four years including a 29-3 record in the AAC and while a drop-off is expected, it should not be much of one. They have been in the top 45 in recruiting over the last three seasons so while a lot of non-power teams have to rebuild, they are simply reloading. Head coach Luke Fickell has done an outstanding job at Cincinnati and while he has been the talk of landing a bigger job over the last couple years, he has stuck it out and with the Bearcats heading to the Big 12 starting next season, he is not going anywhere at this point. There is experience at all levels but Cincinnati enters the season with a returning production ranking of No. 92 so nothing will come easy. OffenseQuarterback Desmond Ridder is gone as is leading rusher Jerome Ford and leading receiver Alec Pierce so star power has to be replaced. Ridder was outstanding and his numbers will not be duplicated but Evan Prater is capable of leading an offense that still has plenty around him. Four of the other five top receivers are back and they combined for 1,485 yards with 17 touchdowns so there will be numerous options for Prater. The running game is a little murkier as Ford and Ridder were the two top rushers with a combined 1,603 yards and the Bearcats hope LSU transfer Corey Kiner can produce right away as he was the No. 9 ranked running back in the 2021 recruiting class. The strength is the offensive line as all five starters are back and the unit helped Cincinnati finish No. 42 in sacks allowed and No. 6 in tackles for loss allowed and will ease the transition along. DefenseThis is where it will be interesting. The Bearcats had one of the top defenses in the nation last year as they finished No. 8 in total defense and No. 5 in scoring defense but have to replace six starters. The strength of the defense a season ago was against the pass but three of the four starters are off to the NFL and there is expected to be a big drop-off in the secondary. If it was a stronger conference then things could be really dicey but the AAC is not a lethal passing league and the early schedule should help the changeover. Two of the top linebackers are also gone and this poses a problem stuffing the run which was the weakness last season if being ranked No. 44 is considered a weakness. The defensive line is in fine shape with three important pieces returning. The Bearcats were tied for third in the nation with 30 takeaways and coming even close to that will be a bonus. 2022 Season OutlookExpectations are high but not to the level of what transpired last year and the Bearcats will have a target on their back every game. Cincinnati ran through the conference once again and should produce a repeat of that. The Bearcats open the season at a vastly improved Arkansas team and if they can pull off the upset as a touchdown underdog, another undefeated season is more than attainable if it can catch some breaks like last season. The other three nonconference games are against Kennesaw St., Miami and Indiana and while the AAC is not a strong conference, they face five teams with wins totals of six or more, three of those on the road, so there are roadblocks along the way. The Cincinnati O/U win total is 9 and while only three of its games last year were decided by a possession, expect that to be higher so if it can handle the close ones, double-digit wins are likely. 

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2022 Charlotte 49ers Preview

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022

Charlotte 49ers2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 C-USA East) - 5-6-1 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewThis is the eighth season for Charlotte playing college football and while there has not been a ton of success, it has been relatively competitive. The 49ers went to their first bowl game in 2019 following a 7-5 regular season but it has had two straight losing seasons heading into a possible turnaround in 2022. Charlotte was on its way to its second ever bowl game last season, winning five of its first nine games but closed the season with three straight blowout losses to finish 5-7. Head coach Will Healey enters his fourth season and will likely need a winning campaign and a trip to a bowl game to save his job. The 49ers bring back one of the most experienced offenses in the country so the potential is there on that side and they will have to outscore opponents because of a questionable defense. The schedule is on their side to get it done with three winnable conference road games. OffenseEight starters return on an offense that finished No. 66 in the country, averaging 404.3 ypg, and the unit comes into the season ranked No. 8 in returning production. Quarterback Chris Reynolds enters his fourth season as the full time starter and he was excellent last year, throwing for 2,684 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The passing game can be even better as he has his top three weapons back led by Grant Dubose and Victor Tucker who combined for close to 60 percent of the receiving yards. The offensive line was decent with protection as it allowed 25 sacks and should cut that down as four starters are back. The running game lacks a go to star but it is a two-headed attack of Calvin Camp and Shadrick Byrd that combined for 1,218 yards on 5.0 ypc last season so the spread offense is balanced enough to keep defenses on their toes. DefenseThis is where the 49ers season will likely be decided. The defense was awful last season as Charlotte allowed 465.3 ypg which was No. 120 in the nation and each unit was bad as it finished No. 112 in passing defense and No. 116 in rushing defense. After allowing 38 points or more in half of their games, the 49ers have to improve in a hurry. There is experience coming back as they do return six starters but the players gone were some of the best. Charlotte lost three of its top four tacklers as the linebacking corps is the biggest work in progress. It will hope to apply more pressure to the quarterback as the 49ers had only 16 sacks last season which was tied for No. 118 in the nation and while the defensive line is small, it is quick to get into the backfield. The secondary is experienced and deep led by safeties Solomon Rogers and Marcus Robitaille but more takeaways are needed.  2022 Season OutlookIt is a make or break season for Healey who has a career 15-17 record in Charlotte and while he has not had any disastrous seasons, his teams have put up some individual game clunkers with 16 of the 17 losses coming by double-digits and by an average of 21.3 ppg. Not ideal. He has to take advantage of the offense he has in place and hope the defense can at least do an average job. The 49ers start conference play right out of the gate as they travel to face Florida Atlantic and then plays four straight non-conference games, three of which are likely losses. Two of the three remaining C-USA road games are winnable at Rice and Middle Tennessee St. and they should take three of the four conference games at home. The O/U win total is 5.5 so win the games it should and Charlotte will finish at least 6-6 and can be better if it can pull an upset or two along the way. 

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2022 Central Michigan Chippewas Preview

Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

Central Michigan Chippewas2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-2 MAC West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 4OverviewCentral Michigan had the most experienced team coming back in the MAC last season and it took advantage by going 9-4 including a Sun Bowl win over Washington St. The Chippewas have only 11 starters back but that includes the quarterback and there is experience present with a lot of underclassmen getting time last season. Head coach Jim McElwain took over a 1-11 program in 2019 and has put together a 20-13 record including a 15-7 mark in the MAC and he looks to have this team trending up as the roster is now his but not with a ton of talent. Winning in the MAC West is never easy with Toledo and Northern Illinois in the mix and it will not be easy this season but projections are high even with a schedule that is not in their favor. Central Michigan has not gone to back-to-back bowl games since 2016-2017 and that finally could change barring something unforeseen taking place. OffenseThe offense had its best season under McElwain as it averaged 452.2 ypg which was No. 28 in the country and 33.0 ppg, good for No. 33 overall. Seven starters are back with a mix of key playmakers returning but also some significant losses. Quarterback Daniel Richardson came into his own last season as he completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,424 yards while throwing 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His experience off a great season counters the losses as gone are two of the top three receivers that combined for 1,533 yards but Dallas Dixon and his 696 yards and 15.8 completion average is back. Richardson was sacked 27 times last season and now he has to work behind an offensive line that lost his two tackles to the NFL. Running back Lew Nichols III rushed for 1,710 yards and will be an integral part of the offense again and should see little if any drop off. DefenseWhile the offense is in fine shape, the defense looks to be in big trouble. The Chippewas front six or seven depending on the scheme was outstanding last season as they finished No. 38 against the run which led the conference, and was No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss, averaging 8.2 per game and No. 4 in sacks with 3.3 per game. Now it is a redo as they lost seven starters including their two best pass rushers, their leading tackler and their two top linebackers. For the latter, Central Michigan has two good replacements but they are just sophomores and there is no depth. The defensive line is experienced with six senior and juniors so the push could be there but it is not the same talent. The problem was they finished No. 112 in passing defense and No. 95 in passing efficiency defense but they do have experience at cornerback while needing to replace the safeties. 2022 Season OutlookMcElwain is a big name coach with success at Colorado St. and Florida before arriving in Mount Pleasant but the recruiting has been lacking which is the case for a lot of the MAC. Despite the significant losses, the Chippewas can build on their five-game winning streak to end last season but it will take more than that to get through a difficult schedule. They open at Oklahoma St., arguably the best team in the Big 12, but then get two games at home against South Alabama and Bucknell before it gets ramped up against with another road game Penn St. The MAC slate is difficult with all West teams having projected O/U win totals at 5.5 or higher and they have to face Toledo and Northern Illinois on the road. The Chippewas own total is set at eight with seems very high for a team ranked No. 100 in returning production and a schedule that has only three sure wins and a lot of swingers. 

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2022 California Golden Bears Preview

Friday, Jul 01, 2022

California Golden Bears2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (4-5 Pac 12 North) - 7-5-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 5OverviewCalifornia has won eight games only three times since 2009 and that has been the max so not much has gone right. Following only four games in 2020 with the program getting hit hard with COVID, 2021 was already at a disadvantage with limited playing time coming in despite 18 returning starters. Head coach Justin Wilcox has gone 26-28 in five seasons which is not terrible and it is a tough school to get blue chip players and the Golden Bears had the No. 60 recruiting class coming in this season. The cupboard is not totally bare but it is damn close as only nine starters are back which is the fewest in the Pac 12 so making a move in the North will be difficult. But good things could happen as this is a good coaching staff that can get the most out of their players as we saw in 2019 when the Golden Bears went 8-5 despite bringing back only 11 starters. A bowl game is a coin flip. OffenseCalifornia had their best offensive season under Wilcox but that is not saying much as it averaged 386 ypg and 23.8 ppg, No. 75 and No. 97 respectively. With only four starters back, there does not seem like much hope to improve the unit but there are some newcomers that could make a difference right away. At the top of the list is quarterback Jack Plummer who transferred in from Purdue after losing his starting job last season which is a head scratcher after completing 68.5 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in four games but never got another chance. The top two receivers are gone but that might not be an issue with Plummer having not worked with anyone. Also gone is leading rusher Christopher Brooks but he had just 607 yards on the ground and the offensive line needs to be retooled so there will be a lot of moving parts early on. DefenseThe Golden Bears defense was better than the offense but not by much. They allowed 370.1 ypg which was No. 55 in the country although the scoring defense was better where they allowed 22.3 ppg, good for No. 35. They were very inconsistent though as they allowed 17 points or less five times and 32 points or more four times and a lot of those inconsistencies were due to poor third down defense where they were No. 120 and that needs to improve immensely. Like the offense, there are a lot of replacements but the returning players are proven playmakers that will have to step up even more. The pass rush will get better with a pair of solid defensive ends and a linebacking corps that is the strength of the unit. The secondary allowed too many big plays early in the season and settled down later albeit against some poor passing offenses. Expect improvements there. 2022 Season OutlookWilcox has not had a season worse than two games under .500 but has had only two winning seasons and the average runs from Jeff Tedford and Sonny Dykes eventually cost them their jobs so Wilcox has to figure out how to get more wins. It might take a bowl game to save his job even as respected as he is and for a young team, the schedule is ideal. The Golden Bears open with UC Davis of the FCS at home and then host UNLV before travelling to Notre Dame. California then opens Pac 12 play against Arizona at home and then has swing games against Washington St. and Colorado on the road, feasibly putting it at 5-1 if things go right. The second half is much tougher but they get Washington, Oregon and UCLA at home. The O/U win total is 5.5 and it has a solid shot at the over based on the schedule but any early slips and surpassing that total will be tough. 

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2022 BYU Cougars Preview

Friday, Jul 01, 2022

BYU Cougars2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (N/A) - 5-8-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 11OverviewThis will be the 12th and final season for BYU playing as an Independent before joining the Big 12 next season and it has flourished playing a wide variety of schedules. The problem with no conference affiliation is that it does not get invited to a top level bowl with 2020 being the perfect example after going 10-1, it was rewarded with a trip to the Boca Raton Bowl. The Cougars have had only one losing season over this stretch, a 4-9 campaign in 2017 where they played an absolutely brutal top heavy schedule losing their first seven games against FBS teams. Going 21-4 over the last two seasons has put BYU back on the map and it is loaded for another big year with 19 returning starters and a ranking of No. 2 in returning production. Head coach Kalani Sitake is in his seventh season while building a great foundation and he has an opportunity to make his new conference take notice. OffenseBYU took a step back last season from 2020 on offense as it averaged more than 70 fewer ypg and put up 11 fewer ppg but of course that was with Zach Wilson at quarterback yet still finished in the top 30 in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense in 2021. Jaren Hall took over last season and was solid in 10 games where he threw for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions and he should be even better. The real strength is the offensive line as BYU did lose one starter but is loaded and this is considered one of the best lines in the country that allowed only 15 sacks last season. The Cougars lost leading rusher Tyler Allgeier who ran for over 1,400 yards but the transfer portal and returning depth will make them just fine. Hall has three of his top four receivers back as well as tight end Isaac Rex so both rushing and passing offenses will thrive.   DefenseThe defense was not great last season as BYU finished No. 74 overall, No. 77 in passing and No. 66 in rushing but it was opportunistic with 25 takeaways that led to a good scoring defense. Now it is time to make a huge leap. It is rare for a team to get every starter back but that is the case in Provo and after last season, they will be out to prove something. The Cougars had only 20 sacks last season which was tied for No. 98 in the country so they need a better pass rush and will get it with another year to develop. BYU had trouble against the run as it allowed 156.8 ypg, No. 58 overall, on 4.4 ypc and like the pass rush, it will get better as the linebackers are strong, versatile and deep. The secondary was solid with 15 interceptions, tied for No. 14 in the nation and that can go way up if they can increase that pressure to the quarterback. This unit will be flying around everywhere. 2022 Season OutlookMoving to the Big 12 will be monstrous for the program as recruiting will pick up with a chance to take even another step forward. 2022 is the focus right now though and BYU has the ability to create some momentum going into next season. It will not be easy based on the schedule as nine of their 12 games are against teams with a winning record from last season. Six are against proven perennial winners in Oregon, Baylor, Notre Dame, Arkansas (maybe not perennial but very improved), Boise St. and Stanford and only two of those are at home. There are six nearly guaranteed wins on the slate so it will take some upsets to get to double-digits which is more than possible with this roster. The O/U win total is 8.5 which is relatively low but the linesmakers have taken the schedule into consideration yet the Cougars should be able to sneak over that total. 

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2022 Buffalo Bulls Preview

Friday, Jul 01, 2022

Buffalo Bulls2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (2-6 MAC East) - 3-8-1 ATS - 6-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 4Defense - 6OverviewBuffalo had a good little run going starting in 2017 where it went 6-6, but no bowl game, and then put up three more solid seasons where it went 24-10 and made three straight bowl appearances. This included an undefeated COVID shortened regular season in 2020 where it lost in the MAC Championship but closed with a bowl win and things were looking up. However, head coach Lance Leipold left the program and took a lot of his staff with him to Kansas and Buffalo made an interesting hire with Maurice Linguist who came in with no coaching experience higher than a defensive backs coach. It showed as following a season opening win against Wagner, the Bulls went 3-8 the rest of the way with two of those wins coming by just one point. There is now a lot to replace on both sides of the ball and a program that was on the upswing now has to look for answers. OffenseThe offense was average last season as it finished No. 63 in the country at 410.6 ypg with a balanced attack but it had its share of inconsistencies in the passing game. Now, the Bulls have to basically start over and it begins with quarterback Matt Myers who brings a rushing aspect but he has to become a more consistent passer as in limited action last year, he completed only 54.4 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions. He does inherit two of the top three receivers from last season but getting them the ball could be an issue. Buffalo allowed only 16 sacks last season which was tied for tenth fewest in the country but the offensive line is now in a complete rebuild. The Bulls have always possessed a solid running game but 1,000-yard rusher Dylan McDuffie is gone and while Ron Cook, Jr. has potential, it drops off quick after that. DefenseBuffalo allowed more than 30 points only five times last season but when it did, it was bad, and the Bulls have enough pieces in place for the unit to improve. They averaged 3.1 sacks per game last season which was No. 16 in the country and they bring a good core back led by nose tackle Daymond Williams, who led the team with 6.5 sacks, and linebacker James Patterson, who led the team with 114 tackles and should be a first team MAC selection. The 4-2-5 scheme does have a lot of depth up front with eight upperclassmen in the two-deep rotation but the backend will have to make significant strides, especially at the corners. Buffalo was decent against the pass only because they were getting gashed in the running game and the Bulls had only three interceptions, tied for second fewest in the nation, and the 11 total takeaways were No. 118 and that has to improve. 2022 Season OutlookIt was not a good start for Linguist in his first season and things are not looking good in year two playing in what looks to be a better conference overall. The Bulls bring back some key veteran players but there are just too many holes to fill for them to make a big jump. The schedule could not set up worse for an inexperienced team as five of the first seven games are on the road and while the Bulls end with a favorable home slate, it will be too late. They have just five home games and four are against teams with winning records from last season. Buffalo opens the season at Maryland where it is an early three-touchdown underdog and then has its home opener against Holy Cross followed by four of the next five on the road, the only winnable game being at UMASS. The Bulls 5.5 O/U win total is a tad lofty considering the four wins from last season and a tougher slate this year. 

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2022 Bowling Green Falcons Preview

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022

Bowling Green Falcons2021-22 Season Record 4-8 (2-6 MAC East) - 8-4-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 10Defense - 9OverviewAfter a 10-4 record in 2015, it has been six straight losing seasons for Bowling Green which has snapped a string of four straight bowl games. Head coach Scott Loeffler has compiled a 7-22 record in his three seasons with the Falcons and this season is likely the last stand if there is not a major turnaround. Last season, Bowling Green was one of the most inexperienced teams in the country as it played numerous underclassmen so it can be excused but this season, the Falcons have the most experienced team in the nation as far as returning production so there are no more excuses. Playing in the MAC can be a rollercoaster for most teams and they can go through those ups and downs as recruiting can be a crapshoot and whether Bowling Green can return to the top for just one season or go on another multiple season run is undetermined. Nonetheless, it has to start now. OffenseBowling Green was awful on offense last season as it finished No. 118 overall, No. 108 in scoring, No. 119 in rushing and No. 83 in passing. That was with four returning starters and now the Falcons have 10 coming back so there should be massive improvements all around. Quarterback Matt McDonald was decent with 2,555 passing yards but threw only 12 touchdowns and tossed seven interceptions but with the experience around him, the redshirt senior transfer can flourish. His two top targets are back and there is plenty of depth with four players behind them that has at least 100 yards receiving. The two top running backs return as well after averaging over a combined five ypc but they need more opportunities and that means getting better on third down where the Falcons were No. 109 in that category. Four offensive linemen are back which sets a good foundation. DefenseBowling Green was good in one aspect in the defense last season but it is skewed. The passing defense was first in the MAC and No. 9 in the nation but that is misleading as the Falcons were down big so often that teams did not have to pass and gashed them on the ground where the Falcons finished No. 109 in the country. The secondary loses both cornerbacks, which are the only two players that have to be replaced, so there could be a downfall back there if teams pass more this season. The front seven is loaded with playmakers that all have starting experience and it all starts with disruption in the backfield. Obviously, that means getting better against the run and applying pressure on the quarterback which can generate more tackles for loss leading to third and long situations. Bowling Green was No. 92 in third down defense and that will get better. 2022 Season OutlookThis team is mixed with 11 seniors and 11 juniors and under as the projected starters, so Bowling Green in great shape this season and going forward. Of course, this is the key season to get the once dominant Falcons back on the map. Every level on both sides brings back plenty of experience and the fourth year in this same system brings more continuity. A quick start to the season is unlikely as the Falcons open at UCLA and then play at Mississippi St. three weeks later with home games against Eastern Kentucky and Marshall in-between so a 2-2 start is likely although they did defeat Minnesota on the road last season so anything can happen. A big revenge game against Akron opens MAC play and then Bowling Green plays four of its next five games at home, three against top teams in the East Division. The O/U win total is 3.5 and this one should easily go over. 

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2022 Boston College Eagles Preview

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

Boston College Eagles2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (2-6 ACC Atlantic) - 6-6-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewBoston College has been very consistent over the last decade but it has been consistently mediocre. The Eagles have won six or seven games in eight of the last nine seasons, the other being a 3-9 campaign in 2015, so they have been competitive but have been unable to get over the hump. Boston College went to four straight bowl games, although one was cancelled midgame in 2018 due to weather but it has gone two straight years without going to the postseason. Head coach Jeff Hafley has gone 12-11 in his two seasons and this could be the one he gets the Eagles to the postseason. They have been the epitome of the entire ACC, average, and for that to change, they need to get their running game back to its normal standards after a pair of below than typical seasons and they will rely on a strong defense to be even more relevant in the tough ACC Atlantic Division. OffenseThe offense was bad last season as Boston College was ranked No. 104 in overall and No. 93 in points scored which was disappointing as it returned nine starters and a lot of that was based on the injuries to quarterback Phil Jurkovec who played in only six games. He is back and if his spring performance is any indication, he is ready to turn the offense around. He gets three of the top four receivers back including Zay Flowers who can be special and if Jurkovec can stay healthy, the passing game can flourish. Running back Pat Garwo surpassed 1,000 yards last season and will look to become just the 18th 2,000-yard rusher in school history but it will have to be accomplished with basically a brand new offensive line. The Eagles have to replace four starters, all which went to the NFL, and that is not a good sign based on what has taken place in the running game recently. DefenseThis is where the Eagles will dominate, or at least should, and it will come down to the defensive line to get pressure to the quarterback and improve against the run after finishing No. 92 last season, allowing 170.8 ypg. The Eagles had only 20 sacks last season and to put that into perspective, the top sack team in 2021 had 57, so this aspect has to improve which will give the passing defense even more opportunities to shine. Boston College finished No. 3 in the country in passing defense, allowing just 173.5 ypg and if it can increase the 10 interceptions from a year ago, they can lead the ACC once again. The secondary is loaded, led by safely Jaiden Woodbey, as they have four seniors who have a ton of experience and the linebacking corps provides a strong back seven. Staying healthy is key with a lack of depth as the nine backups are either freshmen or sophomores. 2022 Season OutlookIt is pretty simple what needs to come together for Boston College to surpass seven wins for the first time since 2009. The line of scrimmage has to improve on both sides and they have to avoid injuries and while the latter is unpredictable, that is the case for all teams with little depth. Boston College started 4-0 last season but it was a very easy non-conference schedule where they were favored in all four games and that will not be the case this year. The Eagles open with a home game against Rutgers and then two of the next three games are in the ACC and on the road at Florida St. and Virginia Tech, both of which have the same win totals as the Eagles but the road is never easy. The other two ACC road games are rough and they also have Notre Dame in South Bend but should claim a victory at Connecticut. 6.5 wins is the O/U total and the over will take two road upsets. 

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2022 Boise St. Broncos Preview

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

Boise St. Broncos2021-22 Season Record 7-5 (5-3 MWC Mountain) - 7-5-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 9OverviewSaying last season was a disappointment for Boise St. would be an understatement. The Broncos five losses were the most since 2013 and tied for third most in the history of the program while the seven victories were the fewest since 1998, not counting the reduced schedule in 2020 because of COVID. It was the first season for head coach Andy Avalos and while he is not on the hot seat quite yet, a team that returned 17 starters in 2021 definitely underachieved even though both offense and defense improved from the 5-2 2020 season. Boise St. again returns 17 starters, one fewer on offense and one more on defense from the previous campaign so expectations are high once again. The Broncos did not go bowling last season which was due to COVID but they will be back in the postseason barring something inexplicable as they are the favorites to win the MWC. OffenseThe offense starts with quarterback Hank Bachmeier who is in his third season as the full time starter and he has been above average but not spectacular and this is the year for a breakout. That obviously not only helps the passing attack but opens up the running game which averaged only 124.2 ypg, which was No. 110 in the country, on a dismal 3.3 ypc. Leading rusher George Holani gained only 569 yards and scored just one touchdown but he did so on a solid 4.8 ypc so he needs more opportunities and a better performance from the offensive line that had a really down year. Bachmeier will need to find a new go to receiver as Khalil Shakir and his 1,117 receiving yards has moved on to the NFL and in total, of the eight players that had at least 100 receiving yards, only three are back with the leading returner being Stefan Cobbs and his 421 yards so there is work to be done. DefenseThe defensive numbers were close to identical to those in 2020 and neither were great. The Broncos finished No. 45 in total defense which is respectable but they need to get better and with nine starters back, that should happen. The strength is in the secondary where all four starters are back and the 13 interceptions was tied for No. 33 in the nation and while that is an arbitrary number to predict going forward, the back four should be even better. The front seven is formidable but Boise St. did lose linebacker Riley Whimpey who was second on the team in tackles yet almost everyone else is back with 10 of the top 12 tacklers returning. The rushing defense was below average as they allowed 157.5 ypg which was No. 75 so that needs to improve as does getting to the quarterback as Boise St. registered 29 sacks which was outside the top 50 in the country. 2022 Season OutlookFor a program that has one of the best winning percentages over the past two decades, another season similar to 2021 will not go over well. The pressure is on Avalos even though last year he can be given a mulligan in his first season as a head coach at this level and this will be his sixth season within the program with a year at Oregon as defensive coordinator mixed in. The Broncos were good at some intangibles last season including red zone offense and defense, penalty differential and turnover margin and if both units perform up to their capabilities, those should remain stable. The schedule is in their favor which helps as three of the four toughest conference games are at home and the only non-conference test is also at home. The O/U win total is 9.5 which seems high but with so much coming back, a 10-win season is a likely outcome if they can avoid any bad hiccups. 

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2022 Baylor Bears Preview

Monday, Jun 27, 2022

Baylor Bears2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (7-2 Big 12) - 10-4-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 6OverviewIt has been a roller coaster of late for Baylor as after seven straight winning seasons, including four years of double-digit victories, the Bears have won 1, 7, 11, 2 and 12 games the last five seasons. The 12 wins last season were the most in program history which included a Big 12 Championship and a Sugar Bowl win over Mississippi. Additionally, their No. 5 finish in the final AP Poll was the highest ever. They had 17 starters back last season including 10 on defense that showed huge improvements but it will be a challenge to replicate that in 2022. In their favor however is that the Big 12 is in kind of a down year with the typical big guns going through some issues and head coach Dave Aranda showed what he can do in what was a loaded conference in 2021. 12 wins again are a stretch, and even double-digit victories will be too much to ask but Baylor is still a tough out. OffenseThe Baylor offense improved immensely from the previous season, averaging 111 more ypg while putting up nine more ppg, and it was perfectly balanced by averaging over 200 yards in both rushing and passing. The problem is that the top playmakers are all gone and while the Bears are not starting from scratch, they will need players to step up. Quarterback Blake Shapen has already won the starting job after playing well in a reserve role last season, completing 72 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions. Unfortunately, he lost three receivers that combined for 1,862 yards but Gavin Holmes is back after missing last season with an injury. Leading rusher Abram Smith and backup Trestan Ebner and their 2,192 yards are also gone but there is some experience coming back that will be running behind a great offensive line that should excel again. DefenseThere are a lot of holes to fill on the defense which finished No. 7 in the country in takeaways with 28. This included 19 interceptions, which was fourth most in the nation, but three starters in the secondary have to be replaced so we should see a regression with the turnovers gained. The pass happy Big 12 opponents could have even better success as Baylor allowed 227.5 ypg through the air last season which was No. 65 overall. It will be up to the front seven to cause havoc and that is something they are very capable of led by nose tackle Siaki Ika and edge rusher Gabe Hall to anchor the defensive line. Add in linebacker Dillon Doyle, who was second on the team in tackles with 89, and there is plenty to work around to keep the unit relevant and keep the defensive rushing averages strong again. Of the 41 sacks last season, players with 26 of those are back. 2022 Season OutlookExpectations are high in Waco after the magical season a year ago and while things will be good, we should not expect great. Baylor opens the season with games against cupcakes Albany and Texas St. sandwiched around a tough game at BYU so a 2-1 non-conference record is likely. Then it gets tough as the conference schedule is not in their favor as five of the nine games are on the road and none are going to be cakewalks. The five games are against teams that were a combined 23-9 at home including games at Oklahoma and Texas late in the season which is not good timing as those two could have their acts together come November. One of the four home games is against a tough Oklahoma St. team. The O/U win total is at 7.5 so linesmakers are not seeing anything close to replicate last season and unless there is a big road upset, the under is looking like the play. 

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2022 Ball St. Cardinals Preview

Monday, Jun 27, 2022

Ball St. Cardinals2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (4-4 MAC West) - 4-8-1 ATS - 4-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewAfter six straight losing seasons, Ball St. has made it to two straight bowl games and while it finished 6-7 last season, it does have something to build on. The Cardinals finished No. 23 in the final AP Poll in 2020 which was the first time in program history that they have finished in the final top 25 poll, albeit being a COVID-shortened season. That likely saved the job of head coach Mike Neu who compiled a 15-33 record in his first four seasons and the hope is to keep moving forward. The issue this season is experience as Ball St. had 10 starters back on both sides of the ball last season and it has only 11 in total back this year but this might not be as bad as it seems. The Cardinals were outgained in 12 of 13 games last season as they were hit hard by injuries so the resiliency they showed by even making it to a bowl game was a positive. Now they have to develop a young group to make it three straight. OffenseThe offense dropped off last season as the Cardinals averaged just 338.3 ypg and 24.1 ppg, No. 110 and No. 94 in the country respectively, as they scored 20 points or fewer in seven of their games. The offensive line was hit hard by those injuries and it shows how much the front five matters and now they do have some experience with all of the players getting time last year. John Paddock takes over at quarterback and while he does not have much game experience, he is a four-year senior that knows the system well. With a revamped offensive line and the two top running backs from last year in Carson Steele and Will Jones behind him, he can ease into the starting role. Two of the top three receivers are back so the parts are definitely in place all around to improve the unit as a whole but getting back to its 2020 offensive yardage average of 448 ypg could be a bit of a stretch. DefenseThe defense has been consistent over the last three seasons, allowing between 420 and 430 ypg, but those averages are not good ranking in the bottom third in the nation while playing in a weak conference like the MAC. The Cardinals graduated seven of their top eight tacklers so that is a big hit but a change in personnel could be good. Ball St. was solid against the run as it allowed 3.9 ypc but did give up 211 or more rushing yards in six of 13 games and this is a very undersized defensive line that could have issues plugging holes. The linebackers are in decent shape on the second level and will have to help out the secondary that finished No. 86 in passing efficiency defense. Ball St. averaged only 4.2 tackles for loss which was No. 121 in the country so it needs a bigger push but it will look to build on its 19 takeaways from last season which was a respectable No. 45. 2022 Season OutlookThis season can go either way as the overall production was lacking last year but making it to a bowl game gave the Cardinals extra practice time which helps a young team going forward. Ball St. opens the season at Tennessee as over a four-touchdown underdog but that is the only difficult non-conference game as it has Murray St. and Connecticut at home and a game at Georgia Southern which could be an early swing game. After Tennessee, the Cardinals open the MAC slate with a home game against a solid Western Michigan team and overall, three of the first four conference games are at home which means they close the season with three of four on the road, all three against winning teams from last season. 5.5 is the O/U win total and at first glance, six winnable games are on the schedule but it will likely take a couple of upsets along the way to go bowling again. 

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2022 Auburn Tigers Preview

Monday, Jun 20, 2022

Auburn Tigers2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (3-5 SEC West) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 7OverviewAuburn is coming off its first overall losing season since 2012 and just its third since 2000 and second year head coach Bryan Harsin is already under pressure. The Tigers have gone to nine straight bowls games but the last four being the Birmingham, Citrus, Outback and Music City Bowls does not exactly inject a lot of enthusiasm in the fan base. Playing in the SEC makes it more of a challenge to get back to prominence and it will not be easy once again. The offense scored 122 points in its first two games but averaged only 22.4 ppg in its last 11 contests and in the offensively potent SEC West, this has to get better. The defense held its own and kept some of the games within reach but the unit was not good in clutch situations, finishing No. 58 in red zone defense, allowing 40 scores in 49 opponent attempts. Ending on a five-game losing streak only adds to the pressure. OffenseThe offense was average across the board last season finishing between No. 58 and No. 62 in yards, points, passing and rushing but should be better in all areas this season. In one of the bigger offseason transfers, quarterback Bo Nix left for Oregon but he was just average as a starter with 37 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in three seasons. Three transfers from big name schools will be vying for the starting job led by T.J. Finley who came over from LSU and was 70-128 for 827 yards, six touchdowns and one interception last season. He will be pushed by Zach Calzada from Texas A&M and Robby Ashford from Oregon. Whoever wins long-term job will be protected behind a veteran offensive line led by five-year senior starting center Nick Brahms. 1,000-yard rusher Tank Bigsby is back and while top receiver Kobe Hudson transferred, five experienced wideouts are back to fill in. DefenseThe defense has good experience coming back but it is pretty young with only three senior starters. The Tigers finished No. 34 in points allowed per game and No. 35 against the run but they were torched through the air. Only two starters are back in the secondary and they are led by junior safety Zion Puckett and junior transfer corner D.J James to build a more resistant unit. The rushing defense will be better if healthy as three starters are back along the defensive line buoyed by senior edge Derick Hall and fellow end Colby Wooden while getting immediate help from Oregon transfer Jayson Jones at nose tackle. The linebackers are experienced and deep with five juniors or seniors on the three-deep chart. The defense will have to lead, at least early on, until the offense finds its rhythm and one important factor is getting more takeaways than the 12 generated last season. 2022 Season OutlookLosing the final five games and some on and off field allegations nearly cost Harsin his job after one season so expect a buyout if there is not significant improvement. The schedule opens with five home games, three of which should result in easy wins against Mercer, San Jose St. and Missouri while the other two are against Penn St. and LSU which can go either way but a 5-0 start is not out of the question. Then the fun begins. Three of the next four games are on the road against Georgia, Mississippi and Mississippi St. with a home game against an improved Arkansas team sandwiched in. The final SEC home game is against Texas A&M and the Tigers close at Alabama after a home game against Western Kentucky. The 6.5 O/U win total is spot on and if Auburn does not get to that 5-0 start, it will take a few upsets to get to a winning record and a tenth straight bowl game. 

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2022 Army Black Knights Preview

Monday, Jun 20, 2022

Army Black Knights2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (N/A) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewHead coach Jeff Monken took over in 2014 after Army had one winning record in its previous 16 seasons and following  two rebuilding years, the Black Knights have had winning seasons in five of the last six years including four bowl wins after having three in the history of the program before this. Army went 9-4 last season and it could have been better as the Black Knights lost focus in a loss at Ball St., lost by just six points to Wisconsin, fell in a shootout against Wake Forest and dropped its rivalry game against Navy by four points. Six of the nine wins were by double-digits and more of that can be expected against a fairly soft slate. Over the last three years, Army has improved in the final rankings, finishing No. 89 in 2019, No. 66 in 2020 and No. 43 in 2021 and the 2022 version is an all-around better team that should keep the program moving forward even more. OffenseThe Black Knights have been one of the most successful running teams over recent years and that is not going to change. They finished No. 2 in the country in rushing offense with 280.6 ypg on 4.8 ypc which was only No. 32 overall so they will look to improve that average. Army loses starting quarterback Christian Anderson, who was second on the team in rushing, but Tyhier Tyler takes over with plenty of experience and he led the team in rushing in 2020 with 502 yards. His backfield is fully intact led by slotback Tyrell Robinson and fullback Jakobi Buchanan. The offensive line brings back their left tackle and center but have to replace the other three positions which is not a big deal for a team that rotated in and out. The passing game is pretty much non-existent as it threw the ball only 110 times but averaged 20.6 yards per completion which was second highest in the nation. DefenseAfter finishing No. 2 in total defense in 2020, Army took a slight step back last season, allowing 320.8 ypg which was good for No. 15 in the country which is still outstanding. The Black Knights bring back eight starters on defense including both ends, three linebackers and three from the secondary. Defensive end Andre Carter is the anchor of the unit and is a legitimate top NFL draft pick and the linebackers bring back a ton of experience and hard hitting tacklers. The weakness is in the secondary as Army finished No. 72 in pass efficiency defense and will be vulnerable against strong passing attacks but those will be few and far between in 2022. The biggest issue the Black Knights have to shore up is the red zone defense as they allowed 29 scores, including 22 touchdowns in 31 opponent trips and that 94 percent clip was No. 125 in the nation after finishing No. 2 in 2020. 2022 Season OutlookOnce a punching back as an Independent, Army has turned the corner under Monken as he develops players the right way and any gaps moving forward are usually replaced with players with at least some experience. Getting notoriety as an Independent is tough if you are not named Notre Dame but Army is now a noteworthy challenger on most opposing schedules. The slate this season has the potential for a double-digit win season as it is loaded with games Army will be favored in. It faces two FCS teams, Villanova will be a challenge, two poor Independents in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and of course Air Force and Navy, both on a neutral field. Four of the remaining six games are against the Sun Belt with UTSA and Wake Forest mixed in. As long as the Black Knights take care of what they should, the O/U win total of 8 -115 should be surpassed once again. 

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2022 Arkansas St. Red Wolves Preview

Monday, Jun 20, 2022

Arkansas St. Red Wolves2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-7 SBC West) - 6-6-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 6OverviewArkansas St. went to one bowl game in its first 10 seasons in the Sun Belt Conference and then went to the postseason nine straight years but the Red Wolves are coming off two straight losing seasons. This includes a 2-10 record last season under first year head coach Butch Davis so it is time to get this program back on track but it might not happen overnight. One of the football adages is success, or lack thereof, comes with being able to run the ball and stop the run and Arkansas St. was awful at both last season. That has to change quickly and the ask goes to a lot of newcomers on both ends which really may not be a bad thing. The conference schedule is on their side for the most part and with the coaching staff and systems going into a second straight season, things will get better and the Red Wolves might have a shot in the average Sun Belt Conference West Division. OffenseThe Red Wolves could not run the ball last season as they rushed for 100 or more yards only three times and they averaged 82.4 ypg on 2.83 ypc, both of which were No. 128 in the country while their four rushing touchdowns were the fewest in the nation. Leading rusher Lincoln Pare, who accounted for 448 of the total 989 rushing yards, transferred out but that is not a huge deal as there are two very capable runners coming back in Johnnie Lang, Jr. and Alan Lamar. The issue is up front as the offensive line got no push and while the Red Wolves are led by tackle Robert Holmes, there are new faces along the front that will dictate how much they will improve. The passing game was solid as they used two quarterbacks after James Blackman was injured but he is back and ready to lead the attack that has to replace leading receiver Corey Rucker but No. 2 and No. 3 are back. DefenseWhile the offense scored on the ground just four times, opposing offenses rushed for 32 touchdowns and that was the biggest disparity in the conference. Overall, the Red Wolves were dead last in the nation, allowing 261.2 ypg on the ground and they look to tackle John Mincey, a former Tennessee player, and linebackers Jaden Harris and Melique Straker to shore up the rushing defense that will be very young in other spots. A repeat of last season will be a disaster. The passing defense was not great either as Arkansas St. finished No. 94 in yards allowed and gave up a whopping 14.26 yards per completion, seventh highest in the country. The prementioned linebackers will play a big role as the secondary needs help after starting safeties and leading tacklers Elery Alexander and Jarius Reimonenq have moved on. The cornerbacks have experience but are unproven. 2022 Season OutlookIt starts and ends with the running game on both sides plain and simple. The Red Wolves have nowhere to go but up and how far they can ascend will be the difference. The three toughest games on the schedule are against Ohio St., Memphis and Louisiana and they are all on the road so those can be chalked up as losses. Two other road games are at former C-USA programs Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi and those are both swing games. The home portion of the schedule looks tame on paper as the Red Wolves open with Grambling St. of the FSC and get new FBS member James Madison to go along with four other games against teams that has losing records last season. The Red Wolves have a 5 -120 O/U win total so sweeping the home slate, which is very possible, or pulling off a road win in those swing games can vault them to a .500 record and a return to a bowl game. 

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2022 Arkansas Razorbacks Preview

Friday, Jun 17, 2022

Arkansas Razorbacks2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (4-4 SEC West) - 8-4-1 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 8Defense - 6OverviewIt was a very successful season for Arkansas and second year head coach Sam Pittman as it won nine games, the most victories since 2011, and it was two more wins than the last three seasons combined. The Razorbacks went to their first bowl game since 2016 and defeated Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl and they can build on that heading into this season. Arkansas has had only one winning season in the SEC since Bobby Petrino left in 2011 and while the conference as a whole is a beast, the SEC West is brutal with every team capable of producing a winning record. The Razorbacks have plenty of experience all around and the building block from last season attracted some highly touted transfers. Another winning season is likely but the schedule will dictate how many wins are attainable as it is a tough one and it will be important to get off to a fast start. OffenseKJ Jefferson is duel-threat quarterback that led the team in rushing and was excellent in the passing game as he tossed 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He did lose his best receiver to graduation but there is good depth here with three key pass catchers back along with transfer Jadon Haselwood coming in from Oklahoma. Second leading rusher Trelon Smith surprisingly left the team and transferred to UTSA but his 592 yards will be made up by Raheim Sanders and Dominique Johnson who combined for 997 yards on the ground so the No. 1 ranked rushing offense in the SEC could be even better. It will come down to the offensive line that is big and will open holes but needs to improve in pass protection as it allowed 2.31 sacks per game, No. 70 in the nation. This is the second year under offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, yes that pedigree, so they could be better in 2022. DefenseThe defense was a huge improvement in 2021 as the Razorbacks finished No. 50 in the country with 367.7 ypg and while that is just above average, they gave up 400 yards only four times after doing so 17 times in the previous two seasons. While pass protection needs to improve on offense, the pass rush needs to improve on defense as they averaged only 1.85 sacks per game which was tied for No. 89 in the country and their top sack leader that is back had just 3.5 sacks. Drew Sanders transferred in from Alabama to go alongside Bumper Pool to form a solid linebacking core to help get into the backfield. The secondary has to replace a safety and a corner and the likely guys to take over are two transfers from SEC schools so the athleticism will be there. While the principal defense is a 4-2-5, Arkansas implements a 3-2-6 at times and it has the players in place to succeed. 2022 Season OutlookArkansas opened the season 4-0 last year and while it does not have a true road game until its sixth game, a fast start will be difficult. The Razorbacks open with Cincinnati, which will be good but not like 2021, and then four of the next five games are all SEC contests against South Carolina, Texas A&M (neutral), Alabama and at Mississippi St. After Alabama, Arkansas does not play another home game for five weeks so that is a tough stretch but the back end offers an opportunity to close strong. It misses Georgia, Florida and Tennessee and its two games against the SEC East are against two of the bottom teams. The Razorbacks are pegged to finish fourth in the SEC West so it will take some overachieving to surpass its 4-4 conference record from last season. The win total is at 7.5 and they will be favored in seven games so a couple upsets might have to occur for the over to hit. 

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2022 Arizona St. Sun Devils Preview

Friday, Jun 17, 2022

Arizona St. Sun Devils2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (6-3 Pac 12 South) - 6-7-0 ATS - 4-8-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 7OverviewExpectations were huge last season for Arizona St. and it did finish tied for second in the Pac 12 South but it was a minimal consolation. The Sun Devils started 5-1 including a perfect 3-0 conference record but a pair of losses against Utah and Washington St. deflated that great start. Not counting the 2-2 COVID-shortened season, head coach Herm Edwards has three winning seasons and three bowl games in his four years but has been unable to take the Sun Devils to the next level with their best finish being 8-5 twice. There are no high expectations this season and that might be a good thing with no pressure on the players but a stronger division puts them in a tough spot. Arizona St. lost a ton to graduation and transfers and while it is not a rebuild, the pressure is still on Edwards in what could be his final season if the Sun Devils cannot make a push at the Pac 12 South Division title. OffensePlaymakers were in place last season to form an explosive offense but it could never get off the ground and now all of those playmakers are gone. Quarterback Jayden Daniels, who had three solid seasons, transferred in February and will likely be replaced by either Emory Jones or Paul Tyson, a pair of transfers from the SEC. Running back Rachaad White, who rushed for over 1.000 yards, has graduated while leading receiver Ricky Pearsall is also gone so the offense could be challenged early on. The offensive line lost its best player in Kellen Diesch but there is enough experience and talent for this group to succeed and they will have to be the backbone of this offense. The Sun Devils finished No. 75 in total offense last season with a stacked group and with so many defections, it is a guess as to how this unit will perform especially early in the season before they can come together.DefenseThe defense carried Arizona St. last season as it finished No. 13 in total defense and No. 22 in scoring defense, both of which led the conference, and it will need another repeat. Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce is gone to the NFL after one season and will be replaced by Donnie Henderson who has never been a coordinator at the college level. The defense lost some key players to graduation and the Sun Devils will have to rely on some significant transfers on this side of the ball as well. Defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera from Miami, linebacker Rodney Groce from Mississippi St. and safety Khoury Bethley from Hawaii will plug in the three big holes across the three levels. The Arizona St. defense on paper should not miss a beat as there is plenty of experience and depth across the board and a lot of the success will depend on DC Henderson and how he transitions into the system. 2022 Season OutlookThere were offseason issues with talk about recruiting violations which led to a lot of the player transfers and coaching changers and it will be up to Edwards and his veteran leadership to carry this team. The Sun Devils have two easy non-conference home games against Northern Arizona and Eastern Michigan sandwiched around a game at Oklahoma St. before opening conference action at home against Utah and at USC and those two games could make or break their season early. Arizona St. misses Oregon from the North Division and its home and road slates are relatively equal. Three of the four favorites in the conference are from the South Division and Arizona St. is not one of those so it will be a challenge. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and this is a tough one to call as it could go either way and it will come down to upsets, good or bad, to predict the final outcome. 

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2022 Arizona Wildcats Preview

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022

Arizona Wildcats2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (1-8 Pac 12 South) - 6-6-0 ATS - 5-6-1 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 8OverviewIt has been an ugly stretch for Arizona football as it has had four straight losing seasons with former head coach Kevin Sumlin running this program into the ground with a 9-20 record. He left nothing for Jedd Fisch who finished 1-11 in his inaugural season with the lone win coming against a COVID depleted California team in a 10-3 victory. While there were some ugly losses, five of the 11 defeats were by one possession so the Wildcats had the possibility of a below average season as opposed to the worst non-COVID season in program history. Arizona will surpass that win total this season but by how much is the question and the Wildcats brought in a very solid recruiting class and some transfers that will play right away but how the chemistry comes together will be the difference. Arizona is the biggest longshot to win the Pac 12 so making a bowl game is unlikely but there will be improvement. OffenseArizona was putrid on offense last season as it was ranked No. 101 in total offense and No. 124 in scoring offense as it scored more than 20 points only two times. The biggest issue was the offensive line as the Wildcats could not establish a running game and were not able to protect the quarterback. There are new bodies that should improve this unit and one factor contributing to this could be the style of play. Quarterback Jayden de Laura transferred over from Washington St. and has the ability to sling it downfield and getting the ball out quick which will decrease the sacks. He has a transfer weapon with wide receiver Jacob Cowing who shined at UTEP with 1,330 yards last season and 2,571 in three years with the Miners. Michael Wiley takes over at running back after a meager 302 yards on 3.3 ypc so maybe an improved line can get him going at a higher level. DefenseThe defense was a lot better than the offense and it was a vast improvement from the previous season, albeit a small sample size of a COVID shortened season, and from 2019 as well. The unit gave up 400 yards or more in only five of 12 games after allowing that many yards in 16 of 17 games in the two prior years. Eight starters are back to build upon the improved success from last season and it starts with the secondary that brings back both corners, possesses one of the better safeties in the conference in Christian Young along with a key transfer to play the nickel. The pass rush was the big issue as Arizona was ranked No. 92 with only 1.8 sacks per game so stepping up there will only help the secondary more. Nose tackle Kyon Barrs is legit and can stop the run but he needs that push up front in pass situations with the linebackers helping out. Expect improvement again.  2022 Season OutlookDespite one victory, the Wildcats covered half of their games which shows they were competitive to an extent against the public perception. This season, the personnel needs to take another step forward but intangibles are just as key as the Wildcats need to do better than allowing 37 scores in 38 redzone opportunities and they need to have more than one takeaway in a seven-game stretch like it did in the final seven games last season. The schedule is doable as anything can happen in the Pac 12 and Utah, USC and Oregon are the only big threats and they get the latter two at home. The non-conference schedule is tough but they open conference play against two other bottom feeders in Colorado and California. The O/U win total is set at 2.5 -125 and this could be a great over spot as the betting public will likely not be backing a one-win team from a season ago. 

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2022 Appalachian St. Mountaineers Preview

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022

Appalachian St. Mountaineers2021-22 Season Record 10-4 (7-1 SBC East) - 8-5-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 7Defense - 6OverviewIt was another successful season for the Mountaineers which have made it to seven straight bowl games although they did have their six-game bowl winning streak snapped with a 59-38 loss to Western Kentucky. Appalachian St. won the SBC East again but has not won the conference championship since 2019 and that is the goal this season. Head coach Shawn Clark is in his third season after posting a 20-7 record in his first two years but that overall conference championship has eluded him after losing to Louisiana in the SBC Championship last year. The offense has some holes to fill at the wide receiver position and defensively, the Mountaineers lost five of their top seven tacklers but there is still plenty in the cupboard to make another run. The conference is better and the schedule is tougher and notching double-digit wins for the fourth time in five years will be difficult. OffenseAppalachian St. finished No. 30 in total offense last season, exceptional for a team from a non-Power Five conference, and it was No. 2 in the Sun Belt with its 441.3 ypg average. Quarterback Chase Brice returns following a very successful campaign where threw for 3,020 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 61.9 percent of his passes but there will be work to do. His top three receivers, who combined for 2,463 yards, are gone and of the returning wideouts, none caught more than 12 passes or gained more than 112 yards last season. He has the best offensive line in the conference in front of him with four starters back and because of the pro style offense, the running game is a vital part and both Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples return along with their 2,463 rushing yards but the duo combined for just 10 receptions last year. DefenseThe defense was right up there as well, finishing No. 33 in the country overall while finishing No. 22 in third down percentage defense. The rushing defense, which led the Sun Belt last season, is the key to success on this side of the ball as Appalachian St. is undersized and inexperienced along the defensive line so the linebacking strength will have to keep this unit stout. They are facing some strong rushing offenses so this is imperative and linebackers Trey Cobb and Nick Hampton provide proven ability on the second level to stop the run while also helping out in the passing game. The Mountaineers were No. 58 in passing yards allowed but were a much better No. 27 in passing efficiency defense. Three of four starters in the secondary return although they do have to replace their best corner in Shaun Jolly. Bend but do not break could be the mantra of the defense in 2022. 2022 Season OutlookBoth offense and defense have the ability to be at the top of the conference once again but the competition takes a step up. The Mountaineers open with games against North Carolina and Texas A&M and then head to Troy for their conference opener but then it gets pretty easy after that with four of their next five games at home with the lone road game over that stretch at Texas St. The final quarter of the slate could decide where they finish with three challenging road games, one at Marshall and a home game against Old Dominion, two winning teams from last year coming over from C-USA. They are again among the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference and not playing Louisiana is a big edge. Their 8.5 win total O/U is intriguing as five of six road games will be difficult so they will likely have to win four of those along side an estimated 5-1 home record to cash the over. 

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2022 Alabama Crimson Tide Preview

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022

Alabama Crimson Tide2021-22 Season Record 13-2 (7-1 SEC West) - 7-6-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 5Defense - 8OverviewThe rich continue to get richer. Alabama lost to Georgia in the CFP Championship and like most every year, it will retool and is currently the favorite to win the championship this year at +200. The Crimson Tide not only have one of the most talented and deep rosters in the country, but they also have the best player in the nation on each side of the ball coming back. Quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy last season and linebacker Will Anderson, Jr.  took home a lot of big defensive hardware and finished No. 5 in the Heisman voting. Alabama lost seven players to the NFL draft, tied for fifth most overall, but this has been commonplace so there will be little, if any, drop off from its 13-2 season, only its second two-loss season since 2015. The Crimson Tide went 7-6 in 2007, the first year under Nick Saban, and since then it has been an historical run of 14 consecutive double-digit win seasons. OffenseLast season, the offense had to replace eight offensive starters and did not miss a beat and this season, Alabama brings back five starters. It all starts with Young after setting school records for passing yards and passing touchdowns but he loses his top three wide receivers and top running back. The Crimson Tide will rely on transfers to lead at these positions as wide receiver Jermaine Burton comes over from Georgia and has a great skill set while running back Jahmyr Gibbs left Georgia Tech where he led the Yellow Jackets with 746 yards rushing on 5.2 ypc. The offensive line returns three starters but has to replace left tackle Evan Neal who was the No. 7 overall draft pick. Alabama finished No. 7 in the country in total offense and No. 6 in scoring offense last season and despite the lack of proven playmakers around Young, the offense will again put up huge numbers. DefenseAlabama also finished No. 7 in total defense and it might have to rely on this unit early on if the offense does take some time to come together. Anderson simply cannot be left one-on-one as he finished with 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss and on the other side, Dallas Turner is also back after recording 8.5 sacks and both will again cause havoc. The Crimson Tide lost defensive end Phidarian Mathis who anchored the front line the last two seasons but fellow end Byron Young, who has not missed a game in three years, returns along with three-year starting nose guard DJ Dale. The secondary was the weakest unit last season as it finished No. 50 in passing defense but it is not all on them as teams were down and forced to pass. Starting safeties Jordan Battle and Demarco Hellams both return but both corners need to be replaced with three strong candidates. 2022 Season OutlookThe schedule is in the favor of Alabama but it is still never a cakewalk in the SEC. The Crimson Tide miss Florida and Georgia from the SEC East and they get Texas A&M, Mississippi St. and Auburn at home. The challenges will come at Texas and Tennessee with Mississippi being potentially dangerous, but all said and done, Alabama could not have gotten a better slate. A ton of key players have to be replaced but this is not like many other programs as the additions are not raw and come in with plenty of experience. The Crimson Tide are expected to make their seventh CFP Championship in eight years and it is hard to go against that with plenty of five-star players and one of the best coaching staffs in the nation. Alabama has a 10.5 regular season win total O/U so it can afford only one loss to surpass the over and we can see this one cashing but it is at a -230 price. 

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2022 Akron Zips Preview

Monday, Jun 13, 2022

Akron Zips 2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-7 MAC) - 5-7-0 ATS - 6-5-1 O/U Returning Starters Offense - 6Defense - 6 Overview Akron has been a fledging program for years as it is coming off another losing season and since 2006, the Zips have produced only one winning record which was in 2015. New head coach Joe Moorhead took over the program in December, replacing Tom Arth who went 3-24 in three seasons and his first goal is to make the Zips competitive for the first time in years. Two of those wins came against Bowling Green and the other against non-FBS Bryant and last season, eight of the 10 losses came by double-digits. Akron is in the middle of the FBS in returning production with the defense ranked No. 19 but this is not necessarily a good thing. The MAC is weak as only two teams finished last season with more than seven wins but it will take a gigantic effort for the Zips to come close to a .500 record as they have a tough schedule that is frontloaded to expect a rough start. Offense Moorhead will try and turn around an unproductive offense that finished No. 106 overall and while he has the pedigree to do so, it will take more than one year. The strength of the offense will be the running game as Akron returns leading rusher Jonzell Norrils and also gets a solid transfer in Cam Wiley who comes over from Minnesota. It had only eight rushing touchdowns last season so there is nowhere to go but up. The passing game could be in trouble as the Zips have to replace their starting quarterback and their two leading receivers and this is where Moorhead will have to work wonders. DJ Irons, Jr. is capable as he completed 65 percent of his passes after taking over for Zach Gibson, who has left the program, and he is behind an offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the country last season. Three starters return up front which is a good building block.  Defense While the offense was bad, the defense was even worse. Akron allowed 474 points last season which was the most in the MAC and it was ranked No. 122 in total defense, No. 128 in rushing defense and No. 55 in passing defense. While that last ranking looks ok, it is skewed as Zips opponents did not have to pass and when they did, Akron allowed 8.77 yards per attempt which was tied for fifth worst in the nation. The strength, if you can call it that, is a veteran secondary but they were put on an island as the Zips lacked a productive pass rush. Four of their top five tacklers are back but this will matter little if they cannot stop opposing offenses when it counts as Akron finished tied for last in the country in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert 54.2 percent of their opportunities. There are solid pieces in place but not enough for a big upward turnaround.  2022 Season Outlook The good news for the Zips is that they will start the season 1-0 as they open with St. Francis but it is an uphill battle after that with five of their next six games taking place on the road. It has been a rebuild for a few years and Arth did nothing to make it better so while Moorhead was one of the better new hires, it will not happen overnight. While the running game will be the focal point, the Zips are going to try and play faster with a system similar to that of Oregon and it will be up to Irons, Jr. to make quick decisions on the fly. Akron has just three wins in the last three years so its regular season O/U of 2.5 wins is justified and all it should take is one upset along the way as the other likely victory is a home game against Bowling Green. The Zips enter the campaign ranked No. 127 in the preseason power ratings so clearly not much is expected but we should at least see a more competitive team. 

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2022 Air Force Falcons Preview

Sunday, Jun 12, 2022

Air Force Falcons2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 MWC) - 8-4-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/UReturning StartersOffense - 6Defense - 5OverviewIt was a very successful season for Air Force and it finished tied for first in the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division and advanced to the First Responder Bowl where it defeated Louisville. The Falcons finished first in the nation in rushing with 341.6 ypg which has been the strength for years and will be once again. While the season was a success, it could have been even better as all three losses were by one possession while seven wins were by double-digits. Head coach Troy Calhoun is in his 15th season and 10 of his first 14 seasons have resulted in a winning record with one of the other four being the COVID-shortened season in 2020 where the Falcons went 3-3. The schedule this season is in their favor with seven home games and only two real road tests at Utah St. and San Diego St. and should be 5-0 before facing the Aggies in Week Six.OffenseThe running game will again be the focal point of the offense and there is plenty coming back. Quarterback Hazziq Daniels is back after finishing second on the team in rushing and while the passing game was limited as he completed only 45.7 percent of his passes, he led the country with 22.6 yards per completion. His top receiver is gone but that does not affect this team like it would most others so there will not be a downgrade there. Leading rusher Brad Roberts returns and there is a decent amount of depth behind him. The offensive line has three starters back with all five up front having solid experience but avoiding injuries will be big as the depth is limited. The opponents know what they are getting but stopping it will again be a challenge for those defenses as awareness and execution are two different things. We expect the offense to hum along once again. DefenseThe defense has five starters back from a unit that was very underrated last season as Air Force finished No. 5 in the country in total yards allowed at 287.4 ypg and No. 13 in scoring defense at 19.1 ppg. The Falcons did lose some key players on the stop unit however as all three levels have to replace a top defender. The core is back on those levels so there should not be a big drop off and they have the advantage of having an offense that kills the time of possession so taking the field fresh helps this defense in a big way. The defense was on the field for just over 23 minutes per game last season and anything close to that this year will let the defense do its thing again. The Falcons were susceptible to the pass and the secondary will not be much stronger but it did enough to limit big plays and that will be enormous again. As is always the case, discipline will determine the success. 2022 Season OutlookLast season could have been really special if those close losses turned into victories and a reversal of that tends to take place going forward but Air Force likely will not be blowing as many teams out like it did in 2021. The schedule as mentioned is not a bad one with a pair of tough road games but as is the case every season, the Boise St. game will play a big role in the outcome and getting the Broncos at home is important. While calling last season an aberration might be a bit harsh, the likelihood of a repeat will be tough against an improved conference so the other six home games, which they will be favored in all, have to be taken care of to have a shot at taking out the Broncos in the Mountain Division. Another double-digit win season is possible but staying healthy will be crucial as depth is the true weakness of the Falcons across the board. The win total is set at 8.5 which seems right where it should be as an eight or nine win season looks right. 

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The Masters Preview

Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020

It may be close to seven months later than expected, but the 2020 Masters Tournament is finally upon us. There will be differences from the normal April slot but not enough to make a significant difference where we have to handicap this tournament another way. (By the way, don't miss my 5-Pack of Masters picks -- it's available right now.)  The cutline has been lowered from top 70 and ties, to top 50 and ties which is due to the amount of daylight available. Weather will play a factor as opposed to other years but it should not be significant. Temperatures will be cooler but only about 10 degrees less on average and there is rain in the forecast which could benefit the bombers if conditions become soggy. Augusta National measures 7,475 yards for a par 72, but with rain expected at times throughout the week, it will probably play longer than that. While crushing the ball off the tee might benefit some, ball striking is now a big factor as hitting greens in the right spots can lead to easier putts. Only three times in the last 16 years has the winner finished outside the top 26 in driving accuracy, and only twice have they finished out of the top 10 in greens in regulation. Basically, it is a second shot course which means the approaches are important just to get into position. Hitting an approach shot to the wrong place in some cases means not even being able to go after the pin, whether it be a chip shot or putt. That brings big scores into play so the thought process of shots is just as important as the physical part of the game. Americans dominated here early on with Gary Player being the only non-American to win through the first 43 years and he actually did it three times. Since then, it has been up for grabs as over the last 40 years, Americans have won the green jacket 21 times (nearly half of those by just three players) with the rest of the world not far behind with 19 wins. Past history plays a big part as you will see names near the top that you rarely see in other events as successful players here are usually successful a few times. Tiger Woods looks to become the first golfer in history to win the Masters in back-to-back years twice. The most shocking fact is that the European contingent has struggled at Augusta. Granted, it is a totally different experience but with the huge amount of world class players, a European had not won since 1999 (Jose Maria Olazabal) until when Danny Willett was the surprising winner in 2016 and then Sergio Garcia followed that up with a win in 2017. In total, the green jacket has been given to only eight European players (Nick Faldo 3 times, Jose Maria Olazabal 2 times, Seve Ballesteros 2 times, Bernhard Langer 2 times, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Willett and Garcia). How do first time participants fare at Augusta? Not very well as a Masters rookie has not won here since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. There have been numerous close calls along the way but experience, even if it is just a little, has prevailed. Twenty-six participants will be playing the Masters for the first time, including world No. 4 Colin Morikawa and reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler. Three key metrics come into play at Augusta National. Strokes Gained: Total is a huge one considering players with the best all around game are rewarded. Over the last 36 rounds, the top five in this field are Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas and this list should come as no surprise. Next is Strokes Gained: Approach as mentioned before, hitting the right spots is massive. Over the last 36 rounds, the top five in this field are Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Matthew Wolff, Henrik Stenson and Chez Reavie. It should be noted that DeChambeau is No. 71 out of the 93 players in the field. The third important metric is Strokes Gained: Putting on fast bentgrass. Because of the date change, the bentgrass greens went through their hot summer and that type of strain heats up and comes under stress which makes for a slicker surface. Even with rain in the forecast, greens are projected to still run at a 13. Over the last 36 rounds, the top five in this field are Andrew Putnam, Brendon Todd, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth.  Notables: Dustin Johnson +900  Johnson led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee last week in Houston and was top 15 in putting. Since 2015 in four Masters starts, he has finished sixth, fourth, tenth and second.  Justin Thomas +1,300 Thomas has improved in every trip he has made here, going from T39 to T22, T17 and T12 in his next three. He has two runner-ups in his last four starts as well as an eighth and a tenth.  Xander Schauffele +1,600 Schauffele steps up on the big stage as has finished in the top-10 in six of the last 10 majors that he has played. He has a top 25 in 11 straight starts including two runner-ups in his last four.  Brooks Koepka +1,700 Koepka is back from his latest injury and he looked good in his first start back, placing fifth at the Houston Open. Improved each of four trips here, 33rd to 21st to 11th to second.  Jason Day +3,000 Day has made eight of nine cuts at Augusta including three top fives. Injuries are always a concern but he seems to be healthy at the moment. He finished seventh at Houston last week. Tony Finau +3,300 Finau will be a popular pick, both in the betting markets and DFS, and rightfully so with five tops tens in his last 10 starts. But he has just one career win. Two tops tens in two Masters starts. Bubba Watson +3,300 Watson comes in playing at a high level with four top 25s in his last five starts including a seventh and fourth in his last two. He is a two time champ here and has a 12th and fifth in his last two. 

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PGA Golf Preview: Rocket Mortgage Challenge

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020

The fourth event since the PGA Tour restart takes place this week with the Rocket Mortgage Challenge taking place from Detroit Golf Club. This is the second year DGC has hosted this event so course history is meaningless when looking for a winner. Defending champion Nate Lashley won at -25, six shots clear of Doc Redmond, so there was not a lot of Sunday drama which has not been the case so far this season since the shutdown.Detroit Golf Club is a par 72 course that measures in at 7,334 yards and the players tore it up last year. Part of the reason was that a lot of rain hit the area leading up to the event so greens were soft and receptive and players were able to take dead aim at flags. That should not be the case this year with conditions being dryer so there will be more of a risk reward factor. Additionally, the rough will be longer and with no patrons to trample down the grass, keeping the ball in the fairway is a priority. The past three events have seen a star-studded field but that is not the case this week as only 10 of the top 20 players ranked in the FedEx Cup standings are projected to participate with a pair of events at Muirfield on deck. All players ranked in the top ten in the OWGR were in the field the last two weeks but only three are teeing it up this week, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau. Similar to last year’s edition, it should be a wide open event.Key performance stats for this week include Strokes Gained: Approach and Par 4 Scoring. Over the first three weeks, Doc Redmond leads the field in SG: Approach followed by Harold Varner III, Lucas Glover, Viktor Hovland and Tyrell Hatton. As for SG: Par 4, the top five are Hatton, DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, Patrick Rodgers and Kevin Na. This is the first event with four par fives and leading the way Eagles gained is Hovland, followed by Alex Noren, Cameron Davis, Redmond and Maverick McNealy. At Bovada Sportsbook, DeChambeau is the odds on favorite at +650 as he has posted finishes of T3, T8 and T6 over the last three weeks to go along with three other tops fives prior to the shutdown. Simpson is next at +1100 following a win at the RBC Heritage two weeks ago. Hatton is +1200 as he has a pair of victories and a four top six finishes in his past five starts. Reed comes in at +1400 but he has been pretty uneven with T7, MC and T24 the last three weeks. Closing the top five is Hideki Matsuyama at +1800 who missed the cut last week.Other notables include Tony Finau +2500, Rickie Fowler +2800, Brandt Snedeker +4000 and Jason Day +5000.

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